- A Roth conversion is taking money from your deductible pre-tax IRA and converting it into a Roth. You pay income tax now and the money grows tax deferred for life. You can withdraw that money penalty free after the age of 59.5 or earlier if it’s a qualified distribution.
- A backdoor Roth conversion is when you make a non-deductible contribution to an IRA and convert that money into a Roth. The great thing about this strategy is any person with any income can make a non-deductible or after-tax contribution (a contribution that doesn’t reduce your current year tax liability). Before you do this you MUST understand this key rule. If you have a traditional IRA or rollover IRA (not 401k), then you must do a pro rata conversion, which for most, isn’t a great option.
- For example, I have 100k in my IRA and I open a non-deductible IRA and contribute the annual limit ($6,000 if I am under the age of 50 and $7,000 if I am 50+) and want to convert my $6,000 over since I already paid taxes on it and I want it to grow tax free. Well the IRS doesn’t allow you to just convert the after-tax/non-deductible contribution on it’s own and forces you to take a portion of both. In this case, $6,000 makes up 6% of all my IRA money so then I can only convert 6% of my after-tax contribution to my Roth and the rest has to come from my deductible pre-tax IRA because the IRS wants its money now forcing you to pay income tax when you didn’t want to.
First, ask yourself and your spouse what the end goal is. Although it may seem rudimentary to start here it’s actually quite important. Depending on