What are the potential benefits? What are the drawbacks?
If you own a traditional IRA, perhaps you have thought about converting it to a Roth IRA. Going Roth makes sense for some traditional IRA owners, but not all.
Additionally, you never have to make mandatory withdrawals from a Roth IRA, and you are allowed to make contributions to a Roth IRA as long as you live.3
For 2017, the contribution limits are $133,000 for single filers and $196,000 for joint filers and qualifying widow(er)s, with phase-outs respectively kicking in at $118,000 and $186,000. (These numbers represent modified adjusted gross income.)1,4
While you may make too much to contribute to a Roth IRA, anyone may convert a traditional IRA to a Roth. Imagine never having to draw down your IRA each year. Imagine having a reservoir of tax-free income for retirement (provided you follow I.R.S. rules). Imagine the possibility of those assets passing
Why not go
A Roth IRA conversion is a taxable event. When you convert a traditional IRA (which is funded with pre-tax dollars) into a Roth IRA (which is funded with after-tax dollars), all the pre-tax contributions and earnings for the former traditional IRA become taxable. When you add the taxable income from the conversion into your total for a given year, you could find yourself in a higher tax bracket.1
If you are nearing retirement age, going Roth may not be worth it. If you convert a sizable, traditional IRA to a Roth when you are in your fifties or sixties, it could take a decade (or longer) for the IRA to recapture the dollars lost to taxes on the conversion. Model scenarios considering “what ifs” should be mapped out.
In many respects, the earlier in life you convert a regular IRA to a Roth, the better. Your income should rise as you get older; you will likely finish your career in a higher tax bracket than you were in when you were first employed. Those conditions relate to a key argument for going Roth: it is better to pay taxes on IRA contributions today than on IRA withdrawals tomorrow.
On the other hand, since many retirees have lower income levels than their end salaries, they may retire to a lower tax rate. That is a key argument against Roth conversion.
If you aren’t sure which argument to believe, it may be reassuring to know that you can go Roth without converting your whole IRA.
You could do a partial conversion. Is your traditional IRA sizable? You could make multiple partial Roth conversions over time. This could be a good idea if you are in one of the lower tax brackets and like to itemize deductions.6
You could “have it both ways.” As no one can fully predict the future of American taxation, some people contribute to both Roth and traditional IRAs – figuring that they can be at least “half right” regardless of whether taxes increase or decrease.
If you do go
This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.
Material discussed is meant to provide general information and it is not to be construed as specific investment, tax, or legal advice. Individual needs vary & require consideration of your unique objectives & financial situation
1 - cnbc.com/2017/07/05/three-retirement-savings-strategies-to-use-if-you-plan-to-retire-early.html [7/5/17]
2 - bankrate.com/investing/ira/roth-ira-5-year-rule-the-tax-free-earnings-clock-starts-ticking-at-different-times/ [3/25/16]
3 - nerdwallet.com/blog/investing/roth-or-traditional-ira-account/ [5/15/17]
4 - chicagotribune.com/business/success/kiplinger/tca-contributing-to-solo-401-k-and-roth-ira-20170614-story.html [6/14/17]
5 - fool.com/retirement/iras/2017/05/27/should-i-convert-my-ira-to-a-roth-ira.aspx [5/27/17]
6 - tinyurl.com/y8x5lztu [6/23/17]
7 - time.com/money/4642690/roth-ira-conversion-heirs-estate-planning/ [1/27/17]