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  • Writer's pictureJames McGlynn CFA, RICP

Roth While You Can

NEWS OF ENTREPRENEUR Peter Thiel’s $5 billion Roth account, which was funded with PayPal stock, has motivated Congress to look at restricting the growth and size of Roth accounts.

There’s talk of limiting Roth account balances to $5 million or $10 million. There are also proposals to limit both backdoor IRA conversions and so-called mega-backdoor conversions. The latter involves funding a nondeductible 401(k) and then immediately converting the money to a Roth. There’s even discussion of not allowing high-income workers to convert traditional IRAs to Roth accounts.

In recent years, Congress has nixed Social Security’s file-and-suspend option and compelled beneficiaries to empty inherited IRAs within 10 years, rather than over their lifetime. But both changes were grandfathered, meaning those already using the file-and-suspend strategy and those who already had inherited IRAs weren’t affected. Presumably, it would be a similar situation with existing Roth accounts. The upshot: If Congress limits the ability to take advantage of Roth accounts in future, it makes even more sense to convert to a Roth today, while the door is still open.

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