If you are a widow and have significant retirement savings in a traditional IRA, you may be familiar with the limitations on contributing to a Roth IRA due to your income level. However, there is a way for you to get around this restriction by using a strategy called the backdoor Roth IRA. This strategy allows you to take advantage of the tax benefits of a Roth IRA even if you have a high income. In this blog post, we will explain the backdoor Roth IRA strategy and how it can benefit widows with retirement savings in traditional IRAs.
What is a Roth IRA?
A Roth IRA is a retirement account that allows you to contribute after-tax dollars, and any earnings grow tax-free. Unlike traditional IRAs, you don’t get a tax deduction for contributions to a Roth IRA, but the money you withdraw in retirement is not subject to income tax. This makes Roth IRAs an attractive option for individuals who expect their income tax rate to be higher in retirement.
What is a backdoor Roth IRA?
A backdoor Roth IRA is a strategy that allows you to contribute to a Roth IRA even if you are not eligible to do so directly. This is because there are income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA. For tax year 2021, the income limit for single filers is $140,000, and for married filing jointly, it is $208,000. However, there are no income limits for converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. This means that you can contribute to a traditional IRA and then convert it to a Roth IRA, effectively creating a backdoor Roth IRA.
How does the backdoor Roth IRA strategy work?
To use the backdoor Roth IRA strategy, you need to take the following steps:
- Contribute to a traditional IRA: Make a contribution to a traditional IRA with after-tax dollars. You can contribute up to $6,000 for tax year 2021, or up to $7,000 if you are over the age of 50.
- Convert the traditional IRA to a Roth IRA: After you have made the contribution to the traditional IRA, you can convert the account to a Roth IRA. When you do this, you will need to pay taxes on any earnings that have accrued in the account since you made the contribution.
- Report the conversion on your taxes: When you file your taxes, you will need to report the conversion on Form 8606. This form will help you calculate how much of the conversion is taxable.
What are the benefits of the backdoor Roth IRA strategy for widows?
Widows with significant retirement savings in traditional IRAs can benefit from the backdoor Roth IRA strategy in several ways. First, it allows you to take advantage of the tax benefits of a Roth IRA even if you have a high income. This can be particularly beneficial if you expect your income tax rate to be higher in retirement. Second, a Roth IRA does not have required minimum distributions (RMDs) like a traditional IRA. This means that you can leave the money in the account to continue to grow tax-free for as long as you like, which can be advantageous if you want to leave a legacy for your heirs.
In conclusion, the backdoor Roth IRA strategy can be an effective way for widows to take advantage of the tax benefits of a Roth IRA. However, it is important to consult with a financial advisor before making any decisions regarding your retirement savings. A financial advisor can help you determine whether the backdoor Roth IRA strategy is right for you and can help you navigate the complex tax implications of the strategy.