Roth conversions are a great way to ensure clients aren't hit with a hefty tax bill in retirement; however, sometimes, clients don't have any non-qualified or non-IRA money to pay the immediate taxes on the conversion. So, are Roth conversions still a smart tax strategy for those situations? Absolutely!
Your clients can do Roth conversions and pay the tax by using an extra withdrawal from the IRA. The best time to do this is before age 70 and after the client's retirement, when you have complete control over how much you're withdrawing from an IRA account, without having to worry about whether you will make Social Security benefits taxable. This is a crucial window for Roth conversions.
You can account for a client's living expenses with a withdrawal that is less than the high end of one of the lower brackets–for example, the 12% bracket. However, once the client hits their required minimum distributions at age 72, they will be in the 22% bracket for the rest of their life. Therefore, Roth conversions can help the client get as much money from that IRA as possible at the 12% bracket.
When should I convert to a Roth?
You're probably not doing any conversions at the beginning of a year unless we have a terrible market dip, as we did in 2020. Most of your regular conversions will happen in the year's fourth quarter. You want to ensure that there are no unforeseen income sources or expenses for which the client must take an extra withdrawal. Since the Roth conversion is occurring in the fourth quarter, you have until January 15th to make that tax payment. You can take that withdrawal in the next year. When the end of the year rolls around, and you're doing conversions again, you reduce the amount you would've converted by the total withdrawn amount, both for income needs and the tax on the prior year's Roth conversion.
Roth Conversions in Income InSight®
Income InSight automates Roth conversions for you. The software identifies situations where the conversion tax is less than the target rate you choose, whether it's the 12% bracket or the 22% bracket. With the click of a button, you can demonstrate the impact of a Roth conversion on their retirement strategy. In addition, clients can see the lifetime value of the conversion in dollars. Start your 10-day free trial of Income InSight today. No credit card is required.