In part one we discussed some of the basic pluses to having a ROTH. Here are a few more things to consider when making this decision.
If you’ve made it to retirement without investing in a Roth, did you know you can still add one to your retirement portfolio? In fact you probably should since you have the opportunity. However you will need earned income to contribute to a Roth, so if you’re no longer working, this door is sadly closed for you. But here’s the thing, you don’t need earned income to convert a deductible IRA to a Roth. Plus depending on your personal circumstances, you may be able to convert without paying a big tax bill which is a huge bonus.
Here is an example:
Let’s say it’s your first year of retirement and you’ve managed to put away enough in a savings account to cover your expenses for the whole year. However you aren’t working full-time and have a reduced income so you can convert a significant amount of money from your IRA at a low tax rate to save you some money in the long run.
Did you know in 2015, a married couple can have up to $74,900 in taxable income and remain in the 15% tax bracket? This is even if your conversion moves you into the 25% bracket. In fact you’ll only pay that rate on the amount that exceeds the threshold. So if your conversion results in taxable income of about $77,900, you’ll just pay 25% on only $3,000.
Know you’ll always be able to withdraw the amount you converted without paying taxes or penalties. This is really important to know. After five years, you can withdraw earnings tax- and penalty-free, if you’re at least 59½ years old.
What’s really great is the longer you leave the Roth untouched, the more you’ll benefit from tax-free earnings growth in the end. This is the reason most financial advisers will often recommend tapping the taxable accounts first, then tax-deferred retirement accounts, and finally, in the end, your Roth IRA.
Also smaller withdrawals from your Roth will allow you to maintain your retirement lifestyle without some of the unpleasant tax consequences ignited by taxable withdrawals from your deductible IRAs or 401(k) plans.
Better yet, tax-free withdrawals may help you postpone taking Social Security benefits which can be important since each year you delay claiming benefits between age 62 and 70 boosts your payout by as much as 8% a year. Using tax-free withdrawals to manage your taxable income could also lower Uncle Sam’s take of your taxable accounts. Long-term capital gains are tax-free for taxpayers in the 10% or 15% tax brackets.
Of course, one of the best advantages of the Roth is that if you don’t need the money, you don’t have to start taking it out of the tax shelter at age 70½, like you would with a regular IRAs and 401(k)s.
The benefits of a Roth continue even when you’re not around to enjoy them. This is because money in an inherited Roth account can be withdrawn by heirs tax-free over their lifetimes however in comparison, with a traditional IRA, withdrawals are taxed at your heirs’ top tax brackets.