A Roth Conversion is a decision to convert an existing tax-deferred Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or 401(k) into a tax-free Roth IRA. The amount converted is treated as ordinary income. This is a way to strategically “pre-pay” your taxes on your IRA. Before making the decision it is wise to weigh both the benefits and costs of a Roth Conversion:
You avoid the uncertainty of tax rates, which most experts predict will rise. When you are forced to take the money out of a Traditional IRA at age 70 ½, your income gets taxed at whatever the tax rate is at that time. You have no control over this. In the Roth IRA there is no such Required Minimum Distribution, and you can decide to withdraw your money when tax conditions are favorable.
Your money grows tax-free for the rest of your life, and can be passed on to your beneficiaries tax-free.
Some taxpayers have special tax situations, such as net operating losses, charitable deduction carry-forwards, and investment tax credits, which make a Roth conversion very advantageous.
Roth IRA distributions are tax-free if made 5 years after the initial contribution to the plan and you are over 59 1/2. For the tax year 2018 and beyond, the decision to convert funds to a Roth IRA is irreversible.
A Roth IRA is Likely not Beneficial if:
You anticipate your marginal tax bracket to be much lower in the future than it is now.
You anticipate the value of your IRA will decrease between the time of conversion and the time you would have received distributions from your traditional IRA.
You plan to leave a substantial amount of your IRA to a charitable organization. Charities do not pay taxes; therefore, they do not need the tax-free benefit.
If you are considering a Roth conversion, it is a wise decision to consult a financial advisor so that you make the best decision possible.
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