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Roth Conversion Mechanics
Old 06-12-2019, 12:11 PM   #1
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Roth Conversion Mechanics

I have been following the "Roth Conversions make sense?" thread with some interest. It has me asking some questions but I don't want to hijack that thread so I thought I would ask the questions in a new thread. Note I am > 59.5 and will be retiring the end of this year. Most of my assets are in a traditional IRA and a 401k. I do have a small ROTH IRA already. I have never done anything with these accounts except put money in. I realize that I am somewhat clueless about what happens when you take the money out prior to the RMDs starting.

Here goes:

1. A ROTH conversion seems to be when you take money out of the tIRA/401k and pay the taxes on it with already taxed money from some other source. If you pay the taxes via withholding from the tIRA/401k distribution can you still not put some or all of the proceeds into a ROTH IRA? Is the payment of the taxes from "after tax" money what makes it a conversion?

2. I always assumed that when I start withdrawing from my Vanguard tIRA of Fidelity 401k they will withhold for taxes. Is that the case? Can I ask them to not withhold? It would see that would be a requirement if you are going to pay the taxes from a different source. If they have to withhold how do they figure out the amount? Can I tell them or do they use some tax rules?

Thank You
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:20 PM   #2
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My mechanics are that I do a transfer of money from my VG tIRA to my VG Roth. This brings up a page or popup that informs me this is a Roth conversion, a taxable event, and I believe it asks me if I want to withhold taxes on the transaction. I always answer no, because I want the full amount to be converted.

I settle the taxes just as I do for dividends, interest and capital gains. I make quarterly estimated payments. Others have different methods, but the point is it's just more taxable income to deal with.

What makes it a conversion is moving the money from the tIRA to a Roth. How you pay the taxes is just a side issue.
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:28 PM   #3
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1) If you move $10K from your IRA, the $10K will count as income and you owe tax on it, whether you put in in a Roth or "blow the dough".

Let's say the tax is $1K. You can have that $1K withheld, and only move the remaining $9K into the Roth account. Or you can move the entire $10K and pay the $1K tax later from your banking account.



2) When I withdraw from an IRA, my brokers allow me to select to withhold tax or not. If I select "Yes", then they let me choose between the default 10% or something else I type in. So, it is entirely up to me. The brokers do not care. It's me who is responsible to submit the correct amount to the IRS, if not now, then later when I file my tax return.

I always select 10%, because if I wait until the end of the year at the tax return time, I may be levied a penalty for underpayment.

PS. One way to avoid tax underpayment penalty is to do quarterly tax payment, like RunningBum said earlier. I am just too lazy to do this, hence select the 10% withholding.
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:39 PM   #4
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By the way, I also let the broker withhold some money for state tax. I usually select state tax as 20% of fed tax.

That means when I withdraw $10K from my IRA, I only get $8,800 cash transferred to my checking account. One thousand dollars go to the IRS, and $200 goes to my state.

It's never the right amount, and I either get some money back or have to pay more at the year end. But so far, I have not been hit with any penalty. YMMV.
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Old 06-12-2019, 12:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by almost_there View Post
I have been following the "Roth Conversions make sense?" thread with some interest. It has me asking some questions but I don't want to hijack that thread so I thought I would ask the questions in a new thread. Note I am > 59.5 and will be retiring the end of this year. Most of my assets are in a traditional IRA and a 401k. I do have a small ROTH IRA already. I have never done anything with these accounts except put money in. I realize that I am somewhat clueless about what happens when you take the money out prior to the RMDs starting.

Here goes:

1. A ROTH conversion seems to be when you take money out of the tIRA/401k and pay the taxes on it with already taxed money from some other source. If you pay the taxes via withholding from the tIRA/401k distribution can you still not put some or all of the proceeds into a ROTH IRA? Is the payment of the taxes from "after tax" money what makes it a conversion?

2. I always assumed that when I start withdrawing from my Vanguard tIRA of Fidelity 401k they will withhold for taxes. Is that the case? Can I ask them to not withhold? It would see that would be a requirement if you are going to pay the taxes from a different source. If they have to withhold how do they figure out the amount? Can I tell them or do they use some tax rules?

Thank You
1. You don't have to pay the taxes with after-tax money to have a conversion, but paying the tax with after-tax money is the preferable way to do a conversion.

Example 1, you take $10k out of your IRA, have 15% withheld so $8.5k ends up in the Roth... you have a $8.5k conversion and a $1.5k withdrawal (that is sent on to the IRS as an estimatd tax payment rather than to you)... and $10k of income (the amount withdrawn from the tIRA).

Example 2, you have $10k taken out of your IRA and moved to your Roth... you still have $10k of income but since you are paying the tax with after-tax money you end up with more in your Roth. Example 2 is the preferable way to do it.. it is like being able to contribute to a Roth even if you don't have earned income.

2. Vanguard gives you a plethora of options with respect to withholding.. see below.
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Old 06-12-2019, 01:57 PM   #6
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Roth conversions may be made without withholding any taxes. However, you will still owe whatever taxes are due and will need to withhold them from some other income or pay estimated taxes in four equal payments. That's what we do. The benefit of paying the taxes from a taxable source is that it allows you to put your full conversion amount into the Roth instead of just what's left after taxes. That's more in your retirement accounts and less in your taxable accounts, which should be a good thing.
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Old 06-12-2019, 02:19 PM   #7
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How to Bypass Mandatory Withholding on a 401(k) Distribution | FiGuide

20% w/h mandatory on 401K withdrawals to you. No mandatory w/h on a direct 401K transfer to IRA. No mandatory w/h on 401K RMDs .

No mandatory w/h on IRA withdrawals.
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:11 AM   #8
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I'm following this thread also. I have a question. If I do a direct conversion from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, I understand paying the taxes, but does the amount that I convert count as income, potentially raising my tax bracket? That doesnt make sense to me. I am thinking that since it is IRA to IRA, and none of it actually comes to me, that it would not be counted as income, but I could certainly be wrong
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Old 06-13-2019, 08:32 AM   #9
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I'm following this thread also. I have a question. If I do a direct conversion from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, I understand paying the taxes, but does the amount that I convert count as income, potentially raising my tax bracket? That doesnt make sense to me. I am thinking that since it is IRA to IRA, and none of it actually comes to me, that it would not be counted as income, but I could certainly be wrong
Yes, it counts as income, and can bump you to a higher bracket...and can mess with tax-ability of social security income, and mess with your medicare payment, and mess with your FASFA calcs, and so on. ETA: Because of these other factors (depending on your situation), the marginal tax rate can be MUCH higher.

Here's a good article w/examples: https://www.kitces.com/blog/long-ter...ase-in-0-rate/
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:11 AM   #10
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Here is how I have done ROTH conversions:

1: Roth convert from tIRA to ROTH
2: Take withdrawal from inherited IRA (which can not be converted) and send 90% to Fed and 10% to State taxes. This withdrawal will count towards the RMD amount.

You could pull the taxes from a 401k or tIRA as well. I prefer to do this rather than send in quarterly estimates, but will probably need to start doing estimates soon. If our financial cashflows ever stabilize.
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Old 06-13-2019, 10:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downrod View Post
I'm following this thread also. I have a question. If I do a direct conversion from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, I understand paying the taxes, but does the amount that I convert count as income, potentially raising my tax bracket? That doesnt make sense to me. I am thinking that since it is IRA to IRA, and none of it actually comes to me, that it would not be counted as income, but I could certainly be wrong
Not sure how you can understand paying the taxes, but don't think it should be income? Taxes are paid on income. Period. There are various forms on income, and this is one of them.

Anyway, the reason is that the conversion is to a totally different type of IRA. You'll never be hit with taxes on Roth withdrawals, so the only chance they have to collect the taxes from when you put it in the tIRA (deferred income) is at conversion time.

As far as raising the tax bracket, yes, but only the portion in that bracket is taxed at that rate, not all of your income. Just making sure you're not one that thinks that if you hit the 22% bracket, for example, all of your income is taxed at 22%. Some is at 12%, some 10%, and the part canceled out by your deduction is 0%.
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Old 06-13-2019, 11:33 AM   #12
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Roth Mechanics

My conversion is an in-kind transfer of shares from the tIRA to the Roth account. No withholding. I pay tax via quarterly estimated payments.

It's definitely preferable to pay conversion tax from a separate taxable account. In effect, it's like a transfer from taxable to the Roth. So in the future when it's withdrawn, it escapes whatever tax might have been incurred if it had been withdrawn from the taxable account.

I'm converting to the top of the 12% bracket. So I usually do the conversion late in December after the rest of my return is firmed up. I sometimes have to use the annualized income method to avoid a small penalty for underwithholding.
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by downrod View Post
I'm following this thread also. I have a question. If I do a direct conversion from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, I understand paying the taxes, but does the amount that I convert count as income, potentially raising my tax bracket? That doesnt make sense to me. I am thinking that since it is IRA to IRA, and none of it actually comes to me, that it would not be counted as income, but I could certainly be wrong
I think you are unclear on the basic fundamental difference between the two types of IRA accounts.

A tIRA is funded with tax deferred contributions, so whenever you make a withdrawal, that withdrawal becomes taxable income. A Roth IRA is funded with post-tax money, so all future withdrawals are tax free.
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Old 06-14-2019, 04:16 AM   #14
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I think you are unclear on the basic fundamental difference between the two types of IRA accounts.

A tIRA is funded with tax deferred contributions, so whenever you make a withdrawal, that withdrawal becomes taxable income. A Roth IRA is funded with post-tax money, so all future withdrawals are tax free.
I understand the difference between the two types of accounts. So what I am gathering from this is that a conversion to a Roth IRA is treated exactly like a distribution from a tIRA, for tax purposes. I understand now. I had thought that since it was a transfer from one type of IRA to another, that the amount converted would not count as income. Based upon the replies, I see that is not the case
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:08 AM   #15
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^^^ You got it.... for the tIRA the same as a withdrawal... in both cases amount withdrawn is taxable as pension income.
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:49 PM   #16
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I have never done a Roth conversion, so this might be a basic question for many of you:

How much extra tax paperwork is required when you convert from tIRA to Roth?
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Old 06-14-2019, 12:55 PM   #17
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No extra tax paperwork.

You will receive from 1099-R from the brokerage that holds the tIRA a 1099-R for the income for any withdrwals (including the conversion) and you report the amount as pension income on your tax return.

In fact, if you use TT, you simply the amount is included when you import tax information from your broker.... all you have to do is give it a lookover to see if they amount is correct.
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Old 06-14-2019, 01:17 PM   #18
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You will receive from 1099-R from the brokerage that holds the tIRA a 1099-R for the income for any withdrwals (including the conversion) and you report the amount as pension income on your tax return.
Good info. Now, when we see how close we are to the next tax bracket, I'll consider a conversion.
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Old 06-14-2019, 01:20 PM   #19
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Well, yes, there is extra paper work when you prepare your return, but TT should handle the 1099-R. In the interview there are a few questions to answer, about 4 screens I think. Make sure you check that you moved the funds to another investment account, and that you converted the money to a Roth IRA.

Form 8606 is added to your return. Unless you have complications that make you fill out part I for non-deductible contributions to your IRA, it's just a matter of 3 lines in part II, the first and last of which are you conversion amount.

This amount also shows up on 1040 lines 7a and 7b.

If you were asking how much tax paper work you do when you actually do the conversion, none.

It's all real easy. IMO this should not be a reason to not convert, even if you do taxes all on your own.
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Old 06-16-2019, 01:20 PM   #20
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not mean to highjack this thread but if a person is 50 yo with 1 mill in Tira but does not need the $$ for another 11 years then would you recommend to do a smaller conversation to Roth the next 11 years ? Besides paying taxes will there be a penalty to do a conversion at 50 yo ?
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