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Author: Somewhere Big red star, 1000 posts Global Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 121061  
Subject: Converting traditional IRA to Roth IRA Date: 12/3/2002 8:52 PM
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I started a traditional IRA mostly as an accident of all things. While working my part-time job, it got my Adjusted Gross Income under $7,000 which managed to get me financial aid that paid for all my tuition, which turned out to be much more than I put in the IRA. So I "accidentally" got an IRA.

Eventually I got out of school, went into a high-paying tech job and let the IRA sit idle. There wasn't really much in it in the first place. And I wasn't inclined to convert it to a ROTH because, well, I'd have to pay taxes on it!

Fast forward to December of last year when I was laid-off. Instead of looking for a job, I thought it would be more fun to travel around the countryside. Went to Central America for four months learning Spanish. Traveled all over the western states visiting everything from Yellowstone to Las Vegas.

And wouldn't you know it, the year is almost over and I don't have one, single cent that I've "earned" this year. I've actually sold a couple of stocks at a profit to help pay for my adventures, but I sold a couple at losses that more than made up the difference. Maybe a couple hundred due to dividends and interest. But here I am, sitting on a year, where my income is essentially ZERO! (Never did get unemployment since you're actually supposed to be LOOKING for a job to collect, so that's not an issue.)

And I'm thinking, this might be a great time to convert my traditional IRA! With an income of zero, that would put me at something like the very bottom of the tax ladder. Next year I intend to join the working world again, at which point my income will rise a couple of tax brackets.

But with standard deductions and all that, is it really possible that I could convert my IRA without actually paying ANY (or at least minimal) taxes to boot? Am I missing something obvious like you are supposed to have an income if you want to convert from one to the other? I've read all I could have about ROTH IRAs and conversions, and nowhere do I see anything. Now a traditional IRA you can't contribute more than you've earned in a year, but I wouldn't be contributing anything--just converting.

Sensing that I'll never be in a tax backet this low again--possibily for the rest of my natural life--it would be almost criminal NOT to convert the IRA. But it seems to easy!

Do any of you brilliant people out there have any thoughts about anything I might have overlooked before I see about converting my IRA to a Roth? I'm still nervous about the idea since it seems like if I did something wrong, it could turn out to be far more trouble than it was worth!

Thanks!

-- Ryan
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