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Ways that Learning the Rules should Help in Increasing Your Roth IRA Potential

Retirement savings are a fantastic tax shelter, but to maximize those tax savings you have to understand the Roth IRA rules and requirements.

Retirement plans are excellent tax shelters, but you need to understand Roth IRA rules and other contribution requirements to maximize those tax savings. Essentially, contributions to a retirement savings plan are made on a pretax basis - employers match employee contributions to a plan, but that "income" isn't taxable until it's received, once the employee has retired.  

With a Roth IRA, the contributions aren't deductible, but income earned and future withdrawals are tax free.

To learn more about traditional and Roth IRA rules and how to maximize your contributions and savings, keep reading.

The Roth IRA

Roth IRA contributions are limited at $5000 per tax year. However, if you're 51 or over, you can contribute up to $6000 to a Roth IRA. In 2009, those contribution limitations are expected to increase based on current inflation rates. They will go up in $500 increments.

Unfortunately, there are income eligibility requirements for a Roth IRA. Essentially, you can only make the maximum contribution if your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) falls below a certain level. For example, a married couple may earn between $150,000 and $160,000 or lower and a single person can earn between $95,000 and $110,000 or lower. Otherwise, they must opt for a 401(k).

401 (k) Roth

Employees can now opt to make some of their elective retirement contributions Roth contributions. Historically, any deferred salary or 401(k) contributions were deducted from your taxable wages. However, any contributions considered Roth contributions to a 401(k) Roth are now included in a person's taxable wages, though they may be free from federal income taxation.

The beauty of a Roth 401(k) is that there are no income restrictions on it. That means that no matter what your Modified AGI is, you can make contributions to a Roth 401(k). Also, the contribution limit is much higher. For those 50 and under, it's $15,000 and $20,000 for those over 50. There's also potential of a greater return on investment (ROI) thanks to the higher contribution limits.

Converting a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA

Unfortunately, you can only convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA if your Modified AGI income is less than $100,000 per year. Also, if you're married, but file separately from your spouse then you are usually not allowed to convert your IRAs. However, your converted amount could be considered taxable income, though future growth is tax free. Finally, when you convert to a Roth IRA, you aren't required to make withdrawals at age 70.5.

If you're concerned about the Adjusted Gross Income restrictions currently in place for Roth IRA conversions, there is good news on the horizon. After 2010, new Roth IRA rules will eliminated the $100,000 income limit on conversions from traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs. AlsoBusiness Management Articles, any taxes due on 2010 conversions can be paid in a two-year installment.

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