Investment losses in this unprecedented market decline have been brutal. But keep in mind that if you’ve been invested during the almost 11 year long bull market you may still be ahead.
To survive this coronavirus bear market consider converting part or all of a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. Any amount that you convert will increase your taxable income for 2020 but the market decline and possible job loss or income decline may have reduced what you expected to earn this year. The benefit is that you will pay taxes now on a much reduced value of your traditional IRA and the Roth IRA will NOT be taxable when you withdraw funds in retirement.
Due to the 2017 income tax cuts many people will pay lower taxes this year than in the future after they retire.
Asset values are greatly reduced from the peak in mid-February 2020.
Income tax rates are scheduled to increase in 2026 when the 2017 tax cuts expire. Remember? A sunset provision was written into the 2017 tax law.
So now is a good time to consider a Roth conversion.
A few reminders: once you hit age 59 1/2 and have held the Roth for at least 5 years, future withdrawals are tax-free and penalty-free. Plus you won’t have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from a Roth IRA account in retirement.
Roth withdrawals in retirement can be used to reduce the portion of Social Security payments that are subject to income taxes and avoid Medicare premium surcharges (on individual incomes above $87,000 and joint incomes above $174,000).
Ideally you should have money from outside the IRA to pay the additional tax on the conversion. Ideally you should convert only enough from a traditional IRA to make full use of your current income tax bracket. You don’t want to convert so much that you are pushed into the next highest tax bracket at the margin.
For retirees, the best time to convert to a Roth is before claiming Social Security and taking RMDs (which start at age 72 for taxpayers born July 1, 1949 and later).
You may want to do the conversions over a period of years to avoid a higher tax break.
By reducing RMDs from traditional IRAs, retirees with after-tax incomes of $40-$90k may also eliminate or reduce taxes on their Social Security benefits. Up to 85% of Social Security may be subject to income tax.
Consult your tax adviser to help minimize taxes while converting a traditional to a Roth IRA.
Source: Financial Planning for Women