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Two Cases When a Roth IRA Conversion Makes Sense

Don't rule out a Roth IRA conversion without weighing all the factors says financial adviser Dana Anspach.

Many an expert has suggested that now is a good time to consider a Roth IRA conversion.

And it’s an especially good time for business owners who have a net operating loss in 2020 or individuals with very low income. According to Dana Anspach, the founder and president of Sensible Money, the tax consequences for individuals who fit that criteria could be minimal.

A Roth IRA conversion involves the transfer of funds from a traditional IRA or 401(k) into a Roth IRA. The distribution from the traditional IRA is generally taxed as ordinary income. Once in the Roth IRA, the funds grow tax-free and distributions are tax-free as well.

For people who may have started a business or their business had a bad year, or they became unemployed this year, “there can be a bright side to one of those super low income years,” Anspach said in a video interview with Retirement Daily. And that’s the “opportunity to convert to a Roth IRA and pay either no tax or pay it at a very, very low rate.”

In other cases, Anspach said individuals who might face a surcharge on their Medicare Part B premiums because of the Roth IRA conversion (the conversion increases one’s modified adjusted gross income) ought to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before nixing a Roth IRA conversion. That’s because the growth of the portfolio in the Roth IRA after the conversion could exceed the cost of the conversion – the taxes on the distribution from the traditional IRA and the increased Medicare Part premium, often referred to as the income-related monthly adjustment amount or IRMAA.

Anspach said it’s prudent to conduct a breakeven analysis with contemplating a Roth IRA conversion but it’s not the only factor to consider. For instance, the Roth IRA conversion can be beneficial for surviving spouses who file as single taxpayers. A “Roth is a huge advantage at that phase in life,” she said.

Another benefit is that the IRA account owner is decreasing their required minimum distribution as well as prepaying taxes for their heirs.

One other note about Roth IRA conversions. The stated deadline, according to the IRS, is Dec. 31. But the brokerage or mutual fund firm where your IRA is held may have a different deadline. Be sure to check what your firm’s deadline is and act accordingly. Otherwise, you may lose the opportunity to do a Roth IRA conversion before year-end.

Upcoming live webinar

How to Make a Retirement Income Plan

Thursday <> Jan 21, 2021 <> 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM EST

How much will you need to retire, and where will it come from? In this live webinar, Dana Anspach of Sensible Money will show you how to make a detailed retirement income plan by creating a series of timelines that chart out your future income and expense. You will learn how to create a crystal-clear picture of your future retirement income.

Topics to be covered:

• How to make a retirement budget and the most commonly overlooked expenses

• What a future income timeline looks like

• How to calculate how much you will need to withdraw each year during retirement

• Mistakes people make with their assumptions about inflation and rates of return

• How to see if your retirement money will last

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