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The possibility of higher taxes on the horizon has some investors considering converting their retirement account to a Roth IRA.
President Joe Biden’s substantial infrastructure improvement legislation proposal has triggered speculation about a tax-increase possibility, according to a recent article from CNBC. For some retirement savers, converting to a Roth IRA may help reduce their tax burden.
Though an individual tax increase hasn’t been formally proposed, some believe it’s inevitable because Biden indicated he would raise taxes on those who make over $400,000 to help finance his legislation. If this happens, could a Roth IRA help offset a tax increase?
With a Roth IRA, contributions are made after tax, meaning you’re paying taxes now rather than on withdrawals in retirement. This account can be attractive to those who predict they’ll be taxed at a higher rate in retirement; they may consider paying taxes on the contributions now at a lower rate.
Other investors are considering a Roth conversion because of expected changes to the federal estate tax, according to CNBC. Currently, the 40-percent federal tax rate applies to estates over $11.7 million (or $23.4 for a married couple). A proposal seeks to lower the threshold for that tax rate to $3.5 million.
That’s significant in the context of retirement savings. A Roth conversion shrinks the size of an estate by the amount of income tax paid on that conversion.
Wealthy individuals can therefore use a Roth account to reduce the size of their taxable estate and potentially avoid federal estate tax, said Certified Financial Planner Leon LaBrecque. A similar concept applies in states that levy an estate tax.
[Related content: Considering a Roth Conversion? What to Know]
You shouldn’t rush to convert your IRA based on the single factor of potentially higher taxes, warn some financial advisors in a recent MarketWatch article.
There are a few questions an investor should ask himself, said Brian Schmehil, a certified financial planner and director of wealth management at The Mather Group, including: will the amount I’m converting be taxed at a lower rate now than it could be in the future, and do I have money outside of these accounts I can use to pay the tax liability so that the assets can continue to grow as if I hadn’t paid tax for the conversion?
That’s not to say many investors couldn’t benefit from the potential advantages of a Roth IRA.
“Converting IRAs to Roth IRAs should be something everyone should consider regardless of President Biden’s plan or any other president’s plan,” said Certified Financial Planner Scot Hanson in MarketWatch.
One other factor to consider: a Roth conversion increases your taxable income in the year you complete the conversion, which could potentially put you into a higher tax bracket.
[Related: What is a Backdoor Roth IRA?]
Financial professionals added they would wait for the final legislation before making any recommendations about conversions related to future tax increases. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of a conversion, consult with your tax or financial professional to decide what’s right for you.
Video: A Tax Increase May Be Coming
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