The right way to Convert a Nondeductible IRA to a Roth IRA

If you’ve a nondeductible IRA, you’ll be able to convert it right into a Roth IRA and luxuriate in the Roth’s additional benefits, including tax-free withdrawals and no required minimum distributions (RMDs).

Nonetheless, the principles you will need to follow will rely upon whether you’ve only nondeductible IRAs or each nondeductible and deductible IRAs.

Key Takeaways

  • Nondeductible IRAs work like other traditional IRAs except that you aren’t getting any tax deduction in your contributions.
  • Because your contributions have already been taxed, you will not must pay taxes on them again while you convert your nondeductible IRA right into a Roth IRA.
  • Your account’s earnings, nevertheless, might be taxable on the time of conversion.
  • If you’ve each nondeductible and deductible IRAs, you’ll have so as to add all of them together and prorate the amounts to find out how much of your conversion is taxable and the way much is tax-free.

Nondeductible vs. Deductible IRAs

Nondeductible and deductible IRAs are each traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs), with one key difference: With a nondeductible IRA, you aren’t getting a tax deduction for the cash you contribute, but your account will grow tax-deferred until you make withdrawals. At that time, your withdrawals might be taxed as income.

Individuals who contribute to a nondeductible IRA often achieve this because their income is just too high for them to contribute to a Roth IRA or to deduct their contributions to a standard IRA.

The deductible traditional IRA is the more common type. It provides a tax deduction on the time you make your contributions, subject to certain income limits. As with a nondeductible IRA, your contributions will grow tax-deferred and be taxed only as you withdraw the cash.

Each nondeductible and deductible IRAs are subject to required minimum distributions, starting at age 73. The age has been bumped upwards a few times however it’s set at 73 as of Jan. 1, 2023.


At one time, taxpayers with incomes above $100,000 were ineligible to make Roth IRA conversions. Nonetheless Congress removed that restriction as of 2010, and now everyone seems to be eligible.

If All of Your IRAs Are Nondeductible IRAs

In case your IRA savings are composed entirely of nondeductible IRAs, you’ll be able to convert them to a Roth IRA relatively simply. You will not must pay tax in your contributions to the account (which have already been taxed), but you’ll owe tax on the account’s earnings.

For instance, Susan Smith is within the 24% tax bracket this yr, and she or he only has one IRA, value $100,000. The IRA consists of $60,000 in nondeductible contributions and $40,000 in earnings. If she decides to convert all the IRA to a Roth, she would only must pay taxes on the earnings portion ($40,000). At a 24% tax rate, it could cost her $9,600 in taxes to convert all the $100,000 to a Roth.

If You Have Each Nondeductible and Deductible IRAs

If you’ve each forms of traditional IRA, making a conversion is more complicated. Unfortunately, you’ll be able to’t simply convert your nondeductible IRAs. As a substitute, you need to treat all your IRAs (of each types) as in the event that they were one big IRA. Then you need to prorate the amount of cash you exchange based on the proportion of nondeductible versus deductible funds in your total IRA.

IRS Form 8606, which you utilize to report the transaction, will walk you thru the steps. There are also calculators available online.

For instance, suppose Sam Smith has IRAs totaling $200,000 and desires to convert $100,000 of that right into a Roth IRA. His “basis” (the quantity he has already paid taxes on through his nondeductible IRA contributions over time) is $20,000.

Sam’s basis of $20,000 represents 10% of his total IRA balance ($200,000). So 10% of the $100,000 he’s converting right into a Roth can be tax-free, while the remaining 90% can be taxable.

If Sam is within the 24% tax bracket, the conversion would cost him $21,600. Actually, it could cost him not less than that quantity. Depending on Sam’s other income, and the way close he’s to the highest of the 24% bracket, a few of it’d fall into the subsequent highest bracket and be taxed at 32%.

That’s the reason anyone who’s pondering of converting a major sum should consider their current tax bracket and possibly spread the conversion over several years to attenuate the tax hit.

The right way to Complete the Conversion

You’ve several options for executing the conversion. The simplest—and frequently the safest—is to instruct the financial institution where your IRAs are currently held to transfer the cash right into a Roth account either at that financial institution or a special one.

That is often known as a trustee-to-trustee or same-trustee transfer. If you happen to’re changing trustees, your current trustee may issue you a check made out to the brand new trustee so that you can deposit.

Are There Limits on How Much Money You Can Convert Right into a Roth IRA?

No, you’ll be able to convert all or a part of the cash in your traditional IRAs right into a Roth IRA. Keep in mind, nevertheless, that in case you plan to convert a big sum, spreading your conversions over several years could possibly lessen the tax bill.

When Are Roth IRA Withdrawals Tax-Free?

Withdrawals of Roth IRA earnings are tax-free in case you’ve had a Roth account for not less than five years and are either 59½ or older or qualify for an exception. You’ll be able to withdraw contributions tax-free at any time.

What Is a Backdoor Roth IRA?

A backdoor Roth IRA refers to a two-step maneuver that folks with high incomes can use to get across the income limits on Roth IRAs. First, they contribute to a standard IRA (which has no income limits), then they convert that IRA right into a Roth.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve a nondeductible IRA, you’ll be able to convert it into Roth IRA. You will not must pay tax in your contributions to the account, however the account’s earnings might be taxable on the time of the conversion. If you’ve each nondeductible and deductible IRAs, you are required to prorate the taxable and nontaxable portions to find out how much of your conversion is subject to taxes.

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