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I want to contribute to Roth IRA but due to income limits I cannot. I am already have a Traditional IRA account with funds in it. I can move certain amount to ROTH IRA as a backdoor contribution. My question is for 2022, what will be a good time to move $12000 to Roth IRA (even though conversion does not have limits - $6000 per spouse and in different Roth IRA accounts).

My plan is to contribute certain amount to Traditional next year and then at certain date move the funds to Roth IRA through the conversion.

My question is when in 2022 should I plan to rollover small funds $6000 per spouse from Traditional to Roth.

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  • Is the money in your traditional IRA from non-deductible contributions? Or is it pre-tax money like from deductible contributions or a 401(k) rollover? It's not clear to me if you're asking about making new contributions and converting them, or converting money already in the account.
    – Craig W
    Jun 28 at 16:16
  • Currently money is in 401K pre tax Traditional IRA account. I also have retirement ROTH IRA account. Due to my income next year, I will be contributing to the traditional IRA and converting $12K per year from traditional to ROTH. My question is what is the best time to perform the conversion each year. Jun 28 at 17:35
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    If you have a significant amount from a pre-tax 401(k) rollover in a traditional IRA, then the backdoor Roth will be partially taxable. See bogleheads.org/wiki/Backdoor_Roth#Cautions. Otherwise, there really is no "best time" to perform the conversion.
    – Craig W
    Jun 28 at 18:10
  • Thanks! Yes I don't plan to convert all of my 401 pre tax to ROTH since I don't have the money right now to pay for the tax. But I plan to convert $12K yearly from traditional to Roth. Ok. So there is no best time, this means I can convert at the end of year. Jun 28 at 18:16
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    In that case, as @user102008 said, this is not a backdoor Roth IRA contribution, it is just a standard, taxable Roth conversion.
    – Craig W
    Jun 30 at 20:26
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You cannot process a tax-free "backdoor" Roth IRA contribution if you have existing pre-tax funds or earnings in any traditional IRA account.

If the amount of the pre-tax funds + earnings is low or you're in a low tax bracket, it may make sense to effectively convert the pre-tax funds to Roth at your marginal tax rate, but so long as untaxed earnings exist, you cannot perform a true backdoor Roth.

Note that some employer 401k plans may allow you to roll in pre-tax IRA funds. This is subject to plan rules and may provide a means for you to process tax-free backdoor Roth IRA contributions.

If you meet the requirements for a backdoor Roth contribution or are willing to pay tax on the existing funds + earnings, the timing generally does not matter, aside from any interactions with your other income in the same tax year.

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  • Thanks! My plan now is to contribute to the Traditional IRA and also each year move some amount from Traditional IRA to Roth IRA. This way I am still contributing to some account and slowly moving some funds to Roth IRA. Jul 1 at 2:04
  • What you're doing sounds similar to a "Roth ladder" if you want to do more independent reserach, although you're still working/contributing at the same time (ok!)
    – arcyqwerty
    Jul 1 at 15:54
  • Note as well that you can make nondeductible contributions to IRA and convert at a later date (when you're in a lower income bracket). You'll owe taxes on the earnings but it may be less taxes than your current marginal rate for the pro rata earnings at this time. Definitely keep track of your Form 8606s though
    – arcyqwerty
    Jul 1 at 15:55
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The answer may well be "never". You are likely in a relatively high tax bracket right now, judging from the fact that your income is high enough that you can't make direct Roth IRA contributions. In the past you probably picked a pre-tax instead of Roth 401(k) for this reason. By doing Roth conversions now, you're essentially reversing this decision. Generally this only makes sense if your tax bracket drops significantly, which it doesn't sound like is the case for you now. But if you're set on doing it, it's generally better to do it as soon as possible. Investments tend to go up in value, so the sooner you convert, pay the taxes, and get them into Roth the better.

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