Are you thinking about converting a Traditional IRA or employer plan assets to a Roth IRA? There are many benefits of a Roth IRA including:
- Tax-free growth potential
- The ability to withdraw contributions tax and penalty-free at any time
- The ability to withdraw converted funds after 5 years with no taxes or penalties†
- No required minimum distributions (RMDs)
- Qualified distributions are tax-and penalty-free to both account holders and beneficiaries
Converting to a Roth IRA may be a great financial move, but it isn't for everyone. Whether or not an investor should convert depends on a range of factors:
What will the tax bracket be in retirement?
If an investor expects their tax bracket in retirement to be higher than it is today (or if they anticipate that tax rates will increase in the future), a Roth conversion may be the right choice. The benefits of paying current taxes at conversion may more than offset the opportunity costs of paying the taxes upfront.
How long will the assets be invested?
If an investor has 10 years or more until they plan to withdraw funds, they may want to consider converting to a Roth IRA. The longer the time frame, the more the investments have the opportunity to grow, making tax-free withdrawals in retirement all the more valuable.
Will the investor be able to pay the upfront taxes?
It's important to have enough funds outside of the IRA to cover all taxes triggered by the conversion. If the investor does not, converting to a Roth IRA might not make sense. Using funds from the IRA itself to pay taxes is not recommended, as this could reduce the growth potential inside the account and trigger taxes and early withdrawal penalties.
It's also important to keep in mind that the income from the conversion may raise taxable income into a higher tax bracket. However, the good news is that investors do not have to convert the entire IRA. Investors can easily request a partial conversion.
Ironically, an IRA that has sustained significant losses can make an especially good candidate for conversion, as the lower balance will trigger a smaller upfront tax bill.
Ready to convert to a Roth IRA? Below are a few helpful links:
Converting an existing E*TRADE Traditional IRA
Rolling over a 401k, 457 or 403(b):
Rollover directly to an E*TRADE Roth IRA
Transferring a Traditional IRA from another financial institution:
Open both a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA with E*TRADE. At the end of the Traditional IRA application, make the request to transfer an existing IRA to a new E*TRADE Traditional IRA. Once the assets are at E*TRADE, convert the Traditional IRA to the Roth IRA online, or call anytime for assistance.
Note: Although the IRS has lifted the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) limit for Roth IRA conversions, the MAGI limits for Roth IRA contributions still apply.
†A distribution from a Roth IRA is federally tax-free and penalty-free provided the five-year requirement has been satisfied and one of the following conditions is met: Investor is age 59½ or older, suffered a disability, or is using the withdrawal for a qualified first-time home purchase.