Author Topic: Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?  (Read 788 times)

BillyBGood

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Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?
« on: December 14, 2018, 02:11:02 PM »
I think I may have screwed up.

In my haste to make a Roth conversion in 2018, I don't think I thoroughly considered whether I am even eligible to do so.

In order to make a contribution (not a conversion) to a traditional IRA or Roth I must have income. All of my earnings are excluded by the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, so the result is that I have no income and thus I am not eligible to make an IRA contribution.

Question 1:

If I am not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, can I even open a Roth IRA account?

At Vanguard I could not open a Roth IRA without funding it so I put in $1 just to get the account open, with the intention of making a Roth conversion.

The $1 to open the Roth is an ineligible contribution. I know that. But now that the account is open can I simply make the Roth conversion and then take the $1 out of the account to avoid the consequences of an ineligible contribution?

Question 2:

I read that to contribute to a Roth IRA the account must be opened before the tax deadline of the year you want to begin funding it. So to make a Roth contribution in 2018 the account must have been opened before April 17.

First, is that true?

If that is true, would it prohibit a Roth conversion if my account was opened after that date?

I followed the Vanguard instructions when I opened the Roth and I was not tipped off to any of these concerns. The Bogleheads Wiki on Roth conversions does not address these things.

Thank you very much.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2018, 02:27:05 PM »
You should call Vanguard.

cchrissyy

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Re: Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2018, 02:44:35 PM »
I'll take question 2, the easy one

April 15 2019 is the deadline for the 2018 tax year
https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/ira-year-end-reminders

MDM

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Re: Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2018, 02:47:40 PM »
If I am not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, can I even open a Roth IRA account?
Yes.

Quote
I know that. But now that the account is open can I simply make the Roth conversion and then take the $1 out of the account to avoid the consequences of an ineligible contribution?
Yes.

Quote
I read that to contribute to a Roth IRA the account must be opened before the tax deadline of the year you want to begin funding it. So to make a Roth contribution in 2018 [for the 2017 tax year] the account must have been opened [contribution must be made] before April 17 [of 2018].

First, is that true?
Yes, as edited.  Similarly, to make a Roth contribution for the 2018 tax year, the contribution must be made between Jan. 1, 2018 and April 15, 2019 (or whatever the exact April date).

Quote
If that is true, would it prohibit a Roth conversion if my account was opened after that date?
A Roth conversion may be made at any time.  Any tax consequences affect the tax return for the calendar year in which the conversion occurs.

BillyBGood

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Re: Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2018, 02:55:11 PM »
If I am not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, can I even open a Roth IRA account?
Yes.

Quote
I know that. But now that the account is open can I simply make the Roth conversion and then take the $1 out of the account to avoid the consequences of an ineligible contribution?
Yes.

Quote
I read that to contribute to a Roth IRA the account must be opened before the tax deadline of the year you want to begin funding it. So to make a Roth contribution in 2018 [for the 2017 tax year] the account must have been opened [contribution must be made] before April 17 [of 2018].

First, is that true?
Yes, as edited.  Similarly, to make a Roth contribution for the 2018 tax year, the contribution must be made between Jan. 1, 2018 and April 15, 2019 (or whatever the exact April date).

Quote
If that is true, would it prohibit a Roth conversion if my account was opened after that date?
A Roth conversion may be made at any time.  Any tax consequences affect the tax return for the calendar year in which the conversion occurs.

Thanks for the responses.

I tried to sell the $1 worth of Federal Money Market Fund that I have in the Roth and Vanguard would not let me process the transaction, like I couldn't do that and leave a $0 balance.

I started to just transfer that $1 to my non-retirement brokerage account. Vanguard will allow that but they flash a warning that they will report that transaction to the IRS as an early withdrawal because I am younger than 59.5.

Any suggestions on how to simply undo or reverse that $1 purchase without causing these kind of alarm bells with the IRS?

MDM

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Re: Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2018, 03:00:47 PM »
Any suggestions on how to simply undo or reverse that $1 purchase without causing these kind of alarm bells with the IRS?
"Alarm bells" is overly dramatic. :)

See Excess Contributions to Roth IRAs - Fairmark.com.

With rounding, there is a very good chance your $1 overcontribution, when rectified, will cost you $0 in tax and "penalties".

secondcor521

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Re: Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2018, 04:38:35 PM »
If I am not eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, can I even open a Roth IRA account?
Yes.

Quote
I know that. But now that the account is open can I simply make the Roth conversion and then take the $1 out of the account to avoid the consequences of an ineligible contribution?
Yes.

Quote
I read that to contribute to a Roth IRA the account must be opened before the tax deadline of the year you want to begin funding it. So to make a Roth contribution in 2018 [for the 2017 tax year] the account must have been opened [contribution must be made] before April 17 [of 2018].

First, is that true?
Yes, as edited.  Similarly, to make a Roth contribution for the 2018 tax year, the contribution must be made between Jan. 1, 2018 and April 15, 2019 (or whatever the exact April date).

Quote
If that is true, would it prohibit a Roth conversion if my account was opened after that date?
A Roth conversion may be made at any time.  Any tax consequences affect the tax return for the calendar year in which the conversion occurs.

Thanks for the responses.

I tried to sell the $1 worth of Federal Money Market Fund that I have in the Roth and Vanguard would not let me process the transaction, like I couldn't do that and leave a $0 balance.

I started to just transfer that $1 to my non-retirement brokerage account. Vanguard will allow that but they flash a warning that they will report that transaction to the IRS as an early withdrawal because I am younger than 59.5.

Any suggestions on how to simply undo or reverse that $1 purchase without causing these kind of alarm bells with the IRS?

Call Vanguard and tell them that you want to undo your $1 contribution.  They will send it (plus any attributable earnings) back to you.  It may be easier to do this after you've done the Roth conversion you wanted.

BillyBGood

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Re: Can you tell me if I screwed up this Roth strategy?
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2018, 04:44:39 PM »

Thank you all for the helpful responses. I am resting easy now on this issue.