Four reasons you may want to convert to a Roth IRA

Market volatility this year may have prompted you to review your investment plans, including your retirement goals. As you look at them, you may want to consider converting from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. 

Roth IRAs possess characteristics that make them generally attractive planning tools; for example, they are not subject to required minimum distribution (RMD) rules during the life of the original account owner, which means you can use them as an estate planning tool for passing money to your heirs. A combination of tax law changes and market conditions might make Roth IRAs even more attractive now, especially to investors who are in a position to pay taxes due upon conversion with non-retirement plan assets.  

Here are four reasons why now might be a good time to convert:

If market volatility has depressed your portfolio’s value, you may owe less in taxes. When you convert to a Roth IRA, you will owe taxes on any tax-deductible contributions you made to the traditional IRA as well as any tax-deferred earnings that may have built up in the account over the years. A lower account value would typically result in a lower tax bill.

If you expect your portfolio’s value to recover in the future, converting now could shield future earnings from taxation. After conversion, any assets in the Roth IRA could potentially grow on a tax-advantaged basis and qualified distributions would be tax-free.* 

If you expect future tax rates will be higher when you begin to take distributions, converting and paying a lower tax now might make economic sense. Moreover, qualified distributions would be tax-free.*  

Your nonspouse designated beneficiaries can let an Inherited Roth IRA continue to potentially grow, taking no distributions until year 10 when they fully distribute the account with no tax consequences. After the passage of the SECURE Act in late 2019, nonspouse designated beneficiaries generally must distribute an Inherited IRA by the end of the 10th calendar year beginning the year after the IRA owner dies.  

If your employer’s qualified retirement plan (QRP), such as a 401(k) or 403(b), offers a Roth designated account option, you also may want to consider making contributions to this account. Designated Roth account assets can be rolled over only to a Roth IRA or another employer’s designated Roth account, if that plan accepts the rollover. 

It’s important to remember that you can no longer recharacterize or undo a Roth IRA conversion. This is an important decision, so contact your financial advisor to discuss if a Roth IRA conversion is right for you.  

*Qualified Roth IRA distributions are not included in gross income. Roth IRA distributions are generally considered “qualified” provided a Roth IRA has been open for more than five years and the owner has reached age 59½ or meets other requirements. Withdrawals may be subject to an IRS 10% additional tax for early or pre-59½ distributions.

Roth IRA conversions are not suitable for all individuals. Wells Fargo Advisors is not a tax or legal advisor. Please consult your financial, tax, and legal advisors before taking any action that may have tax or legal consequences and to determine whether a Roth conversion is suitable for your specific situation. 

Please keep in mind that rolling over your qualified employer sponsored retirement plan (QRP) assets to an IRA is just one option. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, and the one that is best depends on your individual circumstances. You should consider features such as investment options, fees and expenses, and services offered. Investing and maintaining assets in an IRA will generally involve higher costs than those associated with a QRP. We recommend you consult with your plan administrator before making any decisions regarding your retirement assets.

This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Richard Ricci in Washington, D.C. at (202) 364-1605.

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