Dec 17

I currently have two IRAs, a Rollover IRA worth $7,100 and a Roth IRA worth $1,000. They are both at the same brokerage.

Is it wise for me to convert my Rollover IRA to my current Roth? What kind of penalties and taxes will I have to pay? Is there a better way to minimize taxes? Should I have the tax withheld or should I pay from the taxes/penalty from an outside source rather than from the IRA?

My current gross income is around 45k and in the 25% tax bracket.

6 comments so far...

  • Dr. Deth Said on December 17th, 2009 at 9:44 am:

    converting to a Roth will cost you taxes and maybe early withdrawal penalty right now – don’t do it. there’s no reason to convert it ever. why would you want to throw away $1800+ ?? You minimize the taxes to zero by NOT converting.

  • Wayne Z Said on December 17th, 2009 at 10:42 am:

    If you convert it to a Roth you would pay taxes but no penalties. There are no ways to reduce those taxes.

    Whether you do it or not depends on your age.

    If you are young enough, the tax savings on the back end will offset the tax you have to pay ($1775 + state) on the front end.

    There really is no right or wrong answer to this. Your choices are pay the taxes now or pay them later.

  • Crystal Said on December 17th, 2009 at 10:50 am:

    No Leave it. The penalties are not worth it. I was burned by rolloing over my 401k into my IRA, there are fees everywhere.

  • dan Said on December 17th, 2009 at 10:58 am:

    Here’s the situation:

    1. Converting to a Roth does not have a penalty. All you will owe is income tax on that money, so….

    $7100 x 25% (your tax bracket) = $1775 extra taxes you will owe

    2. It does make sense to convert this if…
    a. you have enough money to cover the tax bill
    b. you expect your tax rate to rise in the future (in other words, when you retire, you think your tax rate will be higher than it is now
    c. you want a source of tax free money when you retire

    3. Another strategy is this: you could convert a portion each year. Since this money is taxed as ordinary income, you could convert a small amount each year so it doesn’t bump you into a higher tax bracket. Also this strategy would ensure that you are not shocked by your higher tax bill at year end

    4. Once you make over $100,000, you are no longer eligible to convert (this law is changing in 2010)

    5. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT WITHHOLD TAXES! take care of them yourself at year end. The reason for this is the following: if you convert lets say $5000 and withhold 20% or $1000, the $1000 withheld goes straight to the federal government. Well, guess what? Since that money did not go into the Roth, the withholding itself is now subject to taxes PLUS a 10% penalty. Very bad deal.

  • MikeeyMan Said on December 17th, 2009 at 11:42 am:

    YES! CONVERT! You will pay taxes at your marginal tax bracket. There are NO PENALTIES associated with a Roth Conversion. If you can afford the taxes, it’s a no brainer, you need to convert. The roth IRA is the best financial tool available to individuals. It needs to be taken advantage of. Don’t have the taxes withheld. This will reduce your balance. Pay the taxes with the filing of your 1040.

  • StephenWeinstein Said on December 17th, 2009 at 12:08 pm:

    Federal tax of $1775 (your bracket times the amount removed from the non-Roth). Probably state tax as well (not in all states).
    No penalty if you pay the tax from an outside source and put the entire amount removed from the non-Roth into the Roth.
    If you have the tax withheld and do not use an outside source to make up the difference, penalty of 10% of the amount removed from the non-Roth and not put into the Roth.

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