If you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA account last year, you may be facing an account that is worth much less than when you converted it. But you might also be facing a tax bill on value you no longer have. You do have an option, but only if you act quickly – reverse your 2010 Roth conversion.
If you converted your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA last year, the transaction triggered a taxable distribution from the traditional IRA, followed by a contribution to your Roth account. That tax will be based on the value of the traditional IRA on its conversion date. That means if your account is worth less now, you will owe taxes on money that no longer exists.
How to Reverse Your Roth IRA
Thankfully, the Roth conversion regulations allowed for the ability to reverse the conversion – but only if you do so before October 17. This involves completing the proper paperwork with your IRA custodian or trustee. When properly filed, the IRS considers your account as being “recharacterized” from a Roth account back to traditional IRA status. It’s as if the conversion never happened, and your tax liability disappears.
You’ll need to amend your 2010 tax return to allow for the reversal, or adjust your 2010 return if you have filed for an extension. Your reversal of the Roth conversion this year will also trigger some additional documentation requirements for your 2011 tax return.
Reconverting to Roth
Now that you’ve lessened your tax liability on phantom income that vanished due to the market’s versatility, you might consider using the down market to your advantage. You can reconvert your now traditional IRA back to a Roth – and pay less tax on it than you would have paid last year. You must wait 30 days after the reversal to reconvert it. Reconverting your traditional IRA account to a Roth can make sense if you expect your assets to appreciate quickly.
Your tax professional can assist you in amending your 2010 tax return or adjusting your extended 2010 return. He or she can also walk you through the reporting process that will be required should you decide to reconvert your IRA.