I have a Vanguard Roth IRA that I opened just after graduating with my undergrad. I contributed to it for five years before landing a job at a large multinational. I stopped contributing to the Roth IRA and instead contributed to the corporate Fidelity 401k (non-roth option). A few years later I changed my allocation to the Roth 401k option.

My question is: can I roll my Vanguard Roth IRA into my Roth 401k without paying penalties or high fees?

  • 2
    IMO keep the IRA in Vanguard and when you leave your employer roll the 401(k) into the IRA—there are often nontrivial fees from the 401k but Vanguard's IRA is free and they have a great selection of low-ER no-transaction-fee ETFs.
    – Kevin
    Jul 13, 2018 at 7:02

3 Answers 3


No, you are never allowed to rollover a Roth IRA into a Roth 401(k)/403(b). See the Rollover Chart (Table 1-4) in Publication 590-A, which lists which rollovers are allowed between retirement accounts. Roth IRAs are only allowed to be rolled over into Roth IRAs, and nothing else.

(Note that this is different from Traditional accounts, as Traditional IRAs are allowed to be rolled over into Traditional 401(k)/403(b)s.)


Some companies do allow employees to roll funds into a 401K. These funds could be from other 401K programs, or they could be from IRAs (Roth and/or traditional). It is up to the rules of the plan. Check the plan description document, or the webpage.

The question is does it make sense to roll funds into a 401K plan?

One benefit of rolling funds into the plan is that all your retirement funds can be in one location. It is easy to track, and easy to rebalance.

In many cases the 401K has higher fees, and in many cases the number of investment choices are limited. Making the IRA funds more flexible and less costly.

These higher costs and limited options mean that many people move funds from their previous employers 401K into IRAs.

There can be one unexpected benefit of rolling funds into a 401K. I worked for a small company, when the total balance of the 401K funds for all employees passed a certain threshold the administrative fees went down for the employers plan. One new employee rolled a ton of money into the plan, this allowed the company to reach a less costly threshold years earlier than they anticipated.


The 401(k) plan documents will answer your specific question. Some plans permit in bound transfers (after all, the plan itself benefits from larger volume) but some do not support such a transaction.

But. There are many reasons to keep the separate Roth IRA account in place.

  • To Kevin's point (the comment), it would be useful if/when you change jobs.
  • Greater flexibility on investment options
  • Ability to continue deposits. The 401(k), Roth or otherwise, has an annual limit, the IRA let's you deposit more.
  • The Roth offers the ability to withdraw deposits with no penalty. If you were not planning to use the Roth for retirement, it can be used to fund the emergency account. If the money is never tapped, just start to shift he excess funds to long term investments.

Edit - the other answer offered a good link to Pub 590 which renders my answer wrong. No such transfer is permitted.

  • There are a few provisions on the last bullet point if you are under 59 1/2 years in age: you can withdraw the inputted funds, not their earnings, and only have they have been in the account for at least 5 years, however, even with those provisions, I do think that it is among the most powerful points as accessing money from a 401k is usually very troublesome and expensive in terms of fees. Jul 13, 2018 at 19:00
  • Check the data. Deposits have no aging requirement at all. Conversions are another story, but I aimed for brevity. Jul 13, 2018 at 19:03
  • Yeah, I confused the contributions with the earnings. fool.com/retirement/iras/… and rothira.com/roth-ira-withdrawal-rules try to clear this up, but there are a lot of rules in play here. Jul 13, 2018 at 19:19
  • Knowing the rules has been my obsession for over 30 years, and I still get it wrong now and then. No worries, and good links. Jul 13, 2018 at 21:30

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