The Roth IRA was introduced in 1997 with the passage of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. It is named for Senator William Roth, the chief sponsor of the bill.
A Roth IRA is a special kind of retirement account to which people can contribute after-tax dollars. The money grows tax free, and distributions are tax free upon retirement as long as they are withdrawn after age 59 1/2. Anyone with earned income from employment can contribute to a Roth IRA as long as that person's earnings do not exceed specified limits. Roth IRAs can be invested in vehicles like stocks, mutual funds, bonds, CDs or real estate.