Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Ask Kim

You Still Have Time to Undo a Roth Conversion

If you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth in 2013, you have until October 15 to move the money back.

Thinkstock

I converted my traditional IRA to a Roth last year, and my investments have lost money since I made the conversion. Is it too late to change back?

SEE ALSO: 10 Things You Must Know About Roth Accounts

It’s not too late, and losing money in your Roth IRA can be a good reason to undo the conversion. You have until October 15, 2014, to undo a conversion you made in 2013 (a process called recharacterization). After you move the money from the Roth back into a traditional IRA, you can file an amended tax return and get back the money you paid in taxes on the conversion.

You can also reconvert any of the money to a Roth; if the value is still lower than it was when you originally converted to a Roth, you’ll eventually pay less money in taxes on the conversion when you file your 2014 taxes, if your tax rate remains the same. You must wait at least 30 days and until the beginning of the year following the year of the original conversion to reconvert the money to a Roth. Because you’re recharacterizing a 2013 conversion, you’ll need to wait just 30 days.

It can also make sense to undo a Roth conversion from 2013 if your income dropped significantly over the past year -- if, for example, you retired, were laid off or decided to stay home with the children. You can convert the money to a Roth again after 30 days and pay taxes on the conversion at the lower rate.

Advertisement

You may be able to undo the conversion -- or any portion of the conversion -- by calling your brokerage firm or mutual fund company or filling out a form. Be sure to do both sides of the calculation before undoing a Roth conversion; if your investments have lost value but your tax rate has gone up, then you may not come out ahead by recharacterizing. Or if your tax rate has gone down but your investments increased in value since you originally converted to the Roth, you may not see any benefit.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.