I understand that you can recharacterize Roth IRA contributions back into traditional IRA contributions by the next April 15, if you change your mind and decide it would make sense. Then you won't owe taxes up front on the amount contributed.

Can you do the same with a Roth 401(k) contribution? I contributed a few thousand dollars to my 401(k) as Roth contributions towards the beginning of the year, before changing market conditions made me realize that I was going to be making an utterly ridiculous amount of money from my company stock plan. (I had to realize a lot of the gains all at once, because I didn't feel like carrying a portfolio that was 85% company stock. That's just not safe.) It would probably be of more benefit for me to avoid the taxes now and contribute to a Roth account when my income has returned to normal levels.

p.s. hey, site, the question I'm asking is not subjective and is not likely to be closed. :b

2 Answers 2


Sorry, it appears not, according to http://archives.cpajournal.com/2008/508/perspectives/p12.htm

...and the election to make Roth 401(k) contributions (these are after-tax contributions) is irrevocable.

Fairmark says the same thing.

PS, don't complain too loudly, given the reason for the problem. :)

  • Oh, no, I shan't. :b Ah well.
    – user296
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 2:39

Your question was about recharacterizing. But then you said "I contributed a few thousand dollars to my 401(k) as Roth contributions" which means you never converted from a 401(k) to a Roth 401(k), the deposit was always Roth. Even if the law changes allowing the recharacterization, it would not apply to your situation.

  • "The IRS permits IRA owners to recharacterize Roth IRA contributions from one type of IRA (i.e. Roth or traditional) to the other. This applies to both the ordinary annual contributions and the conversion contributions. The deadline for recharacterizing a contribution or conversion is the extended due date of your tax return for the year of contribution or conversion." -- rothira-advisor.com/rothira_uncertainty.htm citing Code Sec. 408A, emphasis mine.
    – user296
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 15:38
  • Ok. The site you link to implies otherwise (i.e. Supporting your position. If this is true, you'd need to go to your 401(k) administrator and ask if they'd do it. Commented Dec 21, 2010 at 2:54

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