January of 2010 has brought with it a lot of change that is keeping financial and estate planners on their toes. In addition to the repeal of the estate tax (discussed in a previous post), we have been presented with new Roth IRA rollover rules that took effect January 1st, and which now allow anybody, regardless of income, to convert their traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The question now is: Is it worth it?
The answer to that question will be different for everybody, because the amount that will be taxed upon conversion depends entirely on the kind of contributions you have made to your traditional IRA in the past. If you have made more non-deductible contributions than tax-deductible contributions to your traditional IRA you will almost definitely want to take advantage of the conversion opportunity. If you have made fewer non-deductible contributions you may be looking at a higher tax bill. However, the fact that the tax bill can be spread out over two years (but only if the conversion is made this year) should give even those who have made mainly tax-deductible contributions reason to consider the switch.
If you think you may want to make the switch, talk to your advisor. Your financial specialist can tell you the pros and cons of switching based on your personal IRA history. The nice part is that if you do decide to take advantage of the new rules, the decision doesn’t have to be permanent. Those who convert their traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2010 will have until October 15, 2011 to change their minds and switch the account back to a traditional IRA.