Four Reasons to Consider Doing Partial Roth IRA Conversions Now

Your IRA and 401(k) have potentially significant future tax implications, and with taxes possibly going up in the next few years, you might want to pay those taxes now, not later.

A financial adviser and a couple smile as they look at a laptop together in a conference room.
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Taxes might be the biggest expense you have for the rest of your life, especially if you’ve accumulated a large IRA. While I hope the government can come together to agree to lower taxes, with over $32 trillion in government debt, I'm not overly optimistic about seeing lower taxes in the future.

To truly comprehend the Roth IRA conversion strategy, consider this analogy: If you were a farmer, would you rather pay taxes on your penny seeds, or on your million-dollar wheat harvest? Clearly, the majority of us would rather pay taxes on the pennies not the dollars, and that’s why a Roth IRA could be a helpful strategy. This is especially important with the elimination of the stretch IRA, as I discussed recently when I was interviewed on the Today show.

While you might not be able to contribute new money to a Roth IRA because you’re no longer working, everyone is eligible to do Roth IRA conversions.

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Partial Roth IRA conversions, like paying taxes on seeds rather than on the bountiful harvest, could offer some tremendous benefits. After paying the taxes today, any future growth of your IRA is entirely tax-free! And what's more, there are no required minimum distributions (RMDs) from a Roth IRA for you or your spouse, keeping you firmly in the driver's seat of your retirement journey, tax-wise.

Moreover, a Roth IRA can extend beyond your own financial horizon to the next generations… You can leave a Roth IRA to your children as part of your legacy planning strategy as I discussed in my article Preparing for the Next Recession: Six Considerations for Retirees.

Let's delve deeper into the four reasons why you should give thought to integrating partial Roth IRA conversions using our SRI Plan, or Strategic Roth Integration Plan, in conjunction with your accountant:

1. Rising taxes

We're presently in a phase where tax cuts are still in place. However, these tax cuts are set to expire in 2026, and this means only one thing — taxes will rise if no new tax laws are agreed upon to lower taxes. Paying taxes now when they're relatively lower could potentially save you a considerable sum in the future.

2. Change in tax status

For married couples, your tax status currently stands at “joint taxpayer.” But with the death of one spouse, this status changes to “single taxpayer,” often leading to a significant hike in income taxes for the surviving spouse.

Doing a Roth IRA conversion while both partners are alive could provide the surviving spouse with a Roth IRA lifeline that the surviving spouse can use without taxes because those taxes were already paid!

3. The end of the stretch IRA

For most children, the stretch IRA is gone when they inherit an IRA from their parents. Now when you die and leave your IRA to your children, they'll have only 10 years to completely deplete your IRA! This situation becomes even more burdensome when your children inherit your IRA as they are probably still working and potentially are at a higher tax bracket than you as a retiree.

Also, if your child lives in one of the 43 states that has a state income tax, they could have to pay additional taxes that you might not have to pay if you live in Florida! The Roth IRAs could help alleviate these issues should they arise.

4. Preserving your family's wealth

Love is expressed in various ways, and one of the most profound is to help ensure the financial welfare of your loved ones. Most of our clients wish to preserve their assets that they are leaving to their children and grandchildren from potential future hazards such as divorce, lawsuits or creditor claims. The competent estate planning attorneys we work with can help create a dynasty revocable trust to help ensure your assets remain within your family bloodline.

Transferring Roth IRAs rather than traditional IRAs to these trusts can help shield your heirs from the stress of future tax burdens.

This is true whether you use a trust or not for the reasons mentioned above... The bottom line is that it's usually better if you pay the taxes, not your children.

A partial Roth IRA conversion can have a downside

While Roth IRA conversions present numerous advantages, it's crucial to consider the potential downsides. Engaging in partial Roth IRA conversions could lead to a temporary rise in your IRMAA Medicare co-pay bracket, thereby increasing your Medicare co-pay.

Upon completion of the conversion process and freedom from future RMDs, your taxable income could decrease, possibly leading to lower IRMAA co-pays in the future.

The sand is rapidly flowing through the hourglass, and the window to implement this tax-efficiency strategy is narrowing. You should consider your options with your accountant and seize the potential benefits of today’s lower tax brackets.

If you're interested in understanding these strategies in more detail, consider attending one of our upcoming steakhouse dinner workshops at Ruth’s Chris or Abe & Louie’s Steakhouse, designed for individuals ages 65 and over with $500,000 to $10 million or more in investable assets. You can also set up a one-on-one meeting with me, Craig Kirsner, MBA, and Sean Burke, M.S., Vice President, by calling 1-800-807-5558.

The appearances in Kiplinger were obtained through a public relations program. The columnist received assistance from a public relations firm in preparing this piece for submission to Kiplinger was not compensated in any way.

Insurance products are offered through the insurance business Stuart Estate Planning. Kirsner Wealth Management is an Investment Advisory practice that offers products and services through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM), a Registered Investment Adviser. AEWM does not offer insurance products. The insurance products offered by Stuart Estate Planning are not subject to Investment Advisor requirements. AEWM is not affiliated with Stuart Estate Planning. Please remember that converting an employer plan account to a Roth IRA is a taxable event. Increased taxable income from the Roth IRA conversion may have several consequences including (but not limited to) a need for additional tax withholding or estimated tax payments, the loss of certain tax deductions and credits, and higher taxes on Social Security benefits and higher Medicare premiums. Be sure to consult with a qualified tax advisor before making any decisions regarding your IRA.

Kirsner Wealth Management has a strategic partnership with tax professionals and attorneys who can provide tax and/or legal advice. Neither Kirsner Wealth Management or its representatives may give legal or tax advice. You are encouraged to consult your tax advisor or attorney. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Any references to guarantees or lifetime income generally refer to fixed insurance products, never securities or investment products. Insurance and annuity product guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. 2020754 -10/23.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Craig Kirsner, Investment Adviser Representative
President, Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors

Craig Kirsner, MBA, is a nationally recognized author, speaker and retirement planner, whom you may have seen on Kiplinger,,, AT&T, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and many other places. He is an Investment Adviser Representative who has passed the Series 63 and 65 securities exams and has been a licensed insurance agent for 25 years.