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Roth IRA Workaround: 2010 Conversion Limit Loophole

Posted By Jim On 09/03/2008 @ 12:12 pm In Retirement | 17 Comments

Can’t contribute to a Roth IRA? There’s a workaround.

I was speaking my accountant a few weeks ago when we began discussing retirement options. One of the ideas we discussed was to contribute to a non-deductible Traditional IRA with the plan of converting it into a Roth IRA in 2010. Prior to 2010, if you earned more than $100,000 MAGI, you cannot convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. This limit is the same whether you’re married or single (boo!). Starting in 2010, that rule disappears so anyone of any income can convert (more on the 2010 traditional IRA conversion income limit loophole [3]).

Right now, my wife and I cannot contribute to a Roth IRA and so we lose access to one of the greatest retirement vehicles available. Fortunately she has access to a 401(k) and I have access to a SEP-IRA, so we do have pre-tax retirement accounts; we just don’t have post-tax vehicles like the Roth IRA. So how do we get some? Use that loophole!

Here is our strategy to take advantage of the 2010 rule change, we will both contribute to non-deductible Traditional IRAs and then convert them, nearly tax free, to Roth IRAs in 2010. It’s nearly tax free because we would still be responsible for taxes on any appreciation the IRAs saw. In talking with my accountant, this strategy works but he gave me some pointers to ensure we don’t run into any headaches.

  • Separate the Traditional IRAs from any other retirement assets. He advised that we open separate accounts from both each other (this is required, you can’t have a joint IRA) and from any other retirement assets. This will give us the greatest flexibility in the future. If we were to mix our non-deductible Traditional IRA with my SEP-IRA (I took a deduction for those contributions), I can’t decide to convert just the “non-deductible” part of that mix.
  • Remember to file IRS Form 8606. My accountant said that a lot of filers who go the DIY route often fail to submit this form and this can cause big headaches down the road. Form 8606 [4] covers non-deductible IRAs and it’s the only way you can tell the IRS that you contributed to a non-deductible Traditional IRA; they won’t know otherwise. Deductible IRA contributions are recorded as a deduction and the IRS doesn’t care about Roth IRAs.
  • You don’t have to convert all at once. This is more an explanation of the rule than advice on what to do but you don’t have to convert all the assets in one shot. You can spread it across two years. This wouldn’t matter to us for our non-deductible Traditional IRAs but if we opt to convert any of our Rollover IRAs, we could spread the damage across two years.

Now we have to hope that the rule doesn’t change or those non-deductible Traditional IRA dollars will be taxed again… in 40-something years.

Has anyone else looked into this?

(Photo: dawnzy [5])

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[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/roth-ira-workaround-2010-conversion-limit-loophole.html

[3] 2010 traditional IRA conversion income limit loophole: http://www.myretirementblog.com/2010-traditional-ira-conversion.html

[4] Form 8606: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8606.pdf

[5] dawnzy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dawnzy/484470148/sizes/s/

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