Roth IRA


The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 created a new type of IRA called a Roth IRA named after Senator William V Roth Jr.  Senator Roth was Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee at that time.

Designed like the Traditional IRA for long term retirement savings the Roth IRA has several different features.

  • Contributions to the Roth IRA are made with after-tax money and are never tax deductible.  Since contributions are made with after tax dollars, your distributions will be completely tax-free, provided you are at lest 59 1/2 and your account has been open at least 5 years.
  • Minimum distribution rules don't apply, You won"t have to withdraw money at age 70 1/2.  Your account can continue to grow.
  • Contributions can come out of the Roth IRA at any time.  Those contributions could be used for other goals including college planning.  This is a big advantage- you will be able to withdraw your Roth IRA contributions.


There is no age limit to the Roth IRA.  You can contribute to the Roth IRA if you have earned income and, unlike the Traditional IRA after age 70 1/2. 

Your eligibility to contribute to the Roth IRA is also determined by your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and your tax filing status:

Here are the guidelines for 2017

Single Filer: AGI up to $118,000 to qualify for a full contribution; $118,000-$133,000 to be eligible for a partial contribution.  $133,000 or more you cannot contribute to the Roth IRA.

Joint Filer:  AGI up to $186,000 to qualify for a full contribution; $186,000-$196,000 to be eligible for a partial contribution.  $196,00 or more you cannot contribute to the Roth IRA.

Roth IRA Contribution LImits

Your maximum annual contribution for 2017 is $5,500 or 100% of compensation, whichever is less.

Individuals who are age 50 or older can contribute an additional $1,000 per year.  This is known as a Catch-Up contribution.


Contribution Limits

Traditional IRA and Roth IRA

Tax Year Under Age 50 Above Age 50
2016 $5,500 $6,500
2017 $5,500 $6,500


Converting An IRA Into A Roth


Many people who have a Traditional or Rollover IRA may benefit by converting their accounts into a Roth IRA.   The term "conversion" means taking  a portion or all of your money from your existing IRA and moving these assets into a Roth IRA. 

Here's the advantage.

Distributions from the Roth will be tax-free at retirement while investors who take distributions from the Rollover IRA or a deductible IRA will eventually pay taxes.  Remember you'll be taxed at ordinary income tax rates on normal IRA distributions and you will be required to take money out at 70 1/2.  So, investors with a large portion of their retirement nest egg inside of the Roth would avoid taxes.  

Be aware, the conversion is a taxable event  and their are some restrictions.  Your modified adjusted gross income must be under $100k in the year of the conversion

The $100,000 limit, however, will disappear in 2010. At that point, anyone can convert a traditional IRA to a Roth -- regardless of their income.  In 2010, Uncle Sam is offering taxpayers who convert a special deal: They can choose to report the amount they convert on their 2010 tax returns, or they can spread it equally across their 2011 and 2012 returns.

Also, be aware if you have several IRA accounts (deductible or non-deductible), the IRS has a "pro-rata" rule that says you must add all the balances of each IRA.  Then divide the non-deductible contributions by the balance.  This gives you the percentage of any conversion that's tax-free.

How To Convert

Set up a new Roth IRA with your custodian.  Most IRA providers allow you to call over the phone and simply transfer existing investments from the Traditional IRA into your new Roth.