Roth IRA Conversion Is Ideal For Most, But Not All

NCPA Expert Examines Pros and Cons of Conversion


Converting from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA may come with a hefty price depending on your income level and how many years you have before you retire, according to a new analysis by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

"Individuals typically convert from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA to reduce their tax burden at retirement," said Pamela Villarreal, NCPA Senior Policy Analyst and co-author of the report. "Since the income limit and the restriction on spouses who file separate tax returns will be eliminated in 2010, now is a good time to weigh the pros and cons and decide if converting is worth the cost."

Someone who converts to a Roth IRA will have to pay taxes on the traditional IRA amount, either by using some of the IRA funds or other funds. Deciding whether to convert depends largely on the ability to pay the taxes that are due when the conversion takes place, according to the NCPA report.

A Roth IRA conversion is ideal for anyone who:

  • Can pay the taxes using money from nonretirement funds.
  • Expects their federal income tax rate when they retire to be much higher than it is today - because their income will be higher and the burden of government will be higher.
  • Faces little to no federal income tax burden today - so that a conversion would cost very little to complete.

The NCPA analysis includes a table that explains what a Roth conversion would cost in taxes. The table shows the cost of converting $25,000 from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA using money from the account to pay the taxes. To see the table, go to  


"Whether you choose to convert to a Roth IRA or not depends on your preferences for paying taxes, as well as your expected income during work and retirement," said Villarreal. "However, the new rules for Roth IRA conversion at least provide people with more choices regarding their retirement savings."

To see the full analysis, log on to To arrange an interview with Pamela Villarreal, contact Leah Gipson.


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