Your Guide to Roth Conversions

Like marriage, converting a traditional IRA to a Roth is not a step that should be taken lightly.

3 eggs with "Rpth," "IRA," and "401K" written on them sitting an a pile of U.S. dollars
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth can shield your retirement savings from future tax increases, but there are pitfalls and trapdoors, too. You’ll owe taxes on a conversion, and the up-front tax bill could be higher than you expected—particularly if the conversion pushes you into a higher tax bracket. If your income tax rate drops significantly after you retire, the tax advantages could be modest or nonexistent. And as with any financial transaction that intersects with the tax code, you—or your financial adviser—must comply with multiple rules and regulations to avoid running afoul of the IRS.

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Sandra Block
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Block joined Kiplinger in June 2012 from USA Today, where she was a reporter and personal finance columnist for more than 15 years. Prior to that, she worked for the Akron Beacon-Journal and Dow Jones Newswires. In 1993, she was a Knight-Bagehot fellow in economics and business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has a BA in communications from Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va.