Roth IRA advice: Time Sensitive | The Frugalista

Roth IRA advice: Time Sensitive

by frugalista on October 14, 2009

If you have lost a lot of money in your Roth IRA,  after converting to one, today is the deadline to have it changed.

This is a guest post from Rande Spiegelman, CPA, CFP®, Vice President of Financial Planning, Schwab Center for Financial Research.

Wouldn't it be nice if just once in a while we were allowed a do-over for the occasional financial misstep? 

Luckily, for investors who converted to a Roth IRA and regret it, the IRS offers a rare opportunity for reprieve, and they call it recharacterization:

  • recharacterization allows you to reverse an IRA conversion; the reason doesn't matter and no explanations are necessary. 
  • If you converted all or part of a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, but the market fell dramatically after your conversion (as in 2008), you can reverse the transaction to reconvert at a lower balance and shrink your tax bill.
  • Important to note, for the 2008 tax year, the deadline for recharacterization is today on October 15, 2009.
  • If you converted from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA and later recharacterize that conversion, you can't reconvert back to a Roth until the calendar year following your original conversion (2011 or later if you converted in 2010, for instance) and you must wait at least 31 days after the recharacterization.
  • Get help if you need it.  The details, rules and requirements to qualify for a recharacterization can become complex.  You’ll ultimately want to check out the recharacterization instructions on IRS Form 8606 and consult with your tax professional.


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