Q.: I will be retiring from public employment next July. I have money in the pre-tax 457(b) and after-tax 457(b) accounts.
In conjunction with retirement, I plan to roll over these account balances to a family of mutual funds. Insofar as I will have 13 years to go before Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) kick-in at age 70.5, what is the best way to move this pre-tax money to an after-tax Roth account? C.M.
A.: In conjunction with your retirement I advise you to open up a Traditional IRA and a Roth IRA with the Vanguard Group of mutual funds. Roll over your pre-tax 457(b) balance to the Vanguard Traditional IRA and roll over your Roth 457(b) balance to the Vanguard Roth IRA. Invest both types of IRAs in the Vanguard Wellington Fund.
In year one of retirement, convert 1/13 of your Traditional IRA balance with the Wellington Fund to the Roth IRA with the Wellington Fund. In year two of retirement, convert 1/12 of the Traditional IRA balance with the Wellington Fund to the after-tax Roth IRA with the Wellington Fund. In year three of retirement convert 1/11 of the Traditional IRA balance with the Wellington Fund to the Roth IRA with the Wellington Fund. Continue this annual ritual until you have emptied out the entire Traditional IRA balance into the Roth IRA. At age 70.5 you will have no money in the Traditional IRA.
Note: RMDs do not apply to Roth IRAs because the Roth is funded with after-tax dollars. In fact, you do not have to take out any money from the Roth IRA in your lifetime. Any money you do take out will be 100-percent tax-free.
Those who are still working can embark on a multi-year conversion program without the use of outside investment funds.
The Deferred Compensation Plans of the State and City of New York offer an “in-plan” conversion benefit. At your direction, your Plan will convert an amount certain from the pre-tax 457(b) account to the Roth 457(b) account. Please contact the Plan or me for additional information.
Remember, conversions are fully taxable in the year you make the conversion and may not be reversed.
Mr. Frank is a fee-only Retirement Financial Planner and a retired city high school Teacher of Accounting. He can be reached by phone at (732) 536-9472, or via email at email@example.com.
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