I recently asked this question: Can I do a Roth 401k rollover to Roth IRA and withdraw contributions I've made this year?

In there, one of the answers pointed out that employer 401k contributions are before tax, even though mine are after tax. I'm likely going to rollover from my Roth 401K to a Roth IRA. Given this situation, how will my pre-tax, vested, employer contributions be handled when I rollover from the Roth 401k to the Roth IRA? Will I simply owe tax on the amount? Will my employer or employers 401k provider simply withhold the amount required for taxes?

I would be doing a direct rollover.

2 Answers 2


These are contributions to your Traditional 401(k) plan. Employer match always goes to the traditional. If you want to convert it to Roth, it will be a taxable event and you'll need to pay taxes on it. Once you converted, the rules for conversions apply (including the 5 years waiting period).

You can rollover the non-Roth portion into a regular IRA, and convert to Roth when it is convenient to you (i.e.: when the tax hit will be minimal), or in "installments" - converting only part each year.

  • 1
    The second sentence is dead-on. Even if the desire is to put it all in a Roth IRA, the pretax money should stop in a traditional IRA to keep choices flexible. Your point of partial conversions is excellent, I'd add that recharacterization is only possible if it stops at the traditional. Commented Sep 1, 2013 at 0:05

The premise of the question is wrong, because employer matching contributions are not part of the Roth 401k. They are part of the Traditional 401k. So if you are just rolling over the Roth 401k, it won't touch these contributions.

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