What is a Roth IRA?
A special retirement account where you pay taxes on money going into your account, and then all future withdrawals are tax-free.
It is important to note there are:
- Income limits for contributions (single: $124,000–$139,000, married filing joint: $196,000–$206,000)
- A Roth IRA 5-year rule
- NO Required Minimum Distributions
What is a Roth Conversion?
An IRA conversion is simply changing the account classification from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Beginning in 2010, the federal government began allowing investors to convert their traditional IRAs into Roth IRAs, regardless of the amount of income they earned.
Roth Conversion Pros:
Tax-Free Growth/Potential for Lower Taxes in the Future
- Your account can grow, and you do not receive a 1099 each year. In addition when you take the money out AFTER age 59.5 you do not pay taxes.
- There are no required minimum distributions (RMDs) for as long as you live.
No age limit
- You can put money in your account for as many years as you want, as long as you have earned income that qualifies.
No employer-plan restrictions
- It doesn’t matter if you’re covered by an employer’s retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b). As long as you don’t exceed the IRS’s income limits, you can still contribute the maximum annual amount to a Roth IRA.
- For the 2019 and 2020 tax years, that’s $6,000, or $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older.
No taxes for your beneficiaries
- You can pass your Roth IRA on to your beneficiaries, and their withdrawals will be tax-free. **
Roth Conversion Cons:
- You pay tax on the conversion when you do it—and it could be substantial.
- You may not benefit if your tax rate is lower in the future.
- You must wait five years to take tax-free withdrawals, even if you’re already age 59½.
- Figuring taxes can be complicated if you have other traditional, SEP. or SIMPLE IRAs you’re not converting.
The 5-year holding period for Roth IRAs starts on the earlier of: (1) the date you first contributed directly to the IRA, (2) the date you rolled over a Roth 401(k) or Roth 403(b) to the Roth IRA, or (3) the date you converted a traditional IRA to the Roth IRA. If you’re under age 59½ and you have one Roth IRA that holds proceeds from multiple conversions, you’re required to keep track of the 5-year holding period for each conversion separately.
footnote**If you inherit a Roth IRA, you must take RMDs, but they’re tax-free as long as the original account owner held the account for at least 5 years.
You may wish to consult a tax advisor about your situation.