An IRA is an Individual Retirement Account. It is a type of investment account to provide retirement security for the individual. It was created in 1974 by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Contributions to your IRA may be deductible, and generally, investments in your IRA, including earnings and gains are not taxed until distributed to you. A contribution to either saves taxes, but contribution to the 401K probably has more benefits such as (1) company matching of contributions and (2) the ability to borrow from it in certain cases.