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Greetings, HubCapBurger, and welcome. You asked:

<<Most of the recommendations I have seen regarding conversion from a standard IRA to a Roth discourage it for people in my age group (55). However I have been amazed at the performance of my Fool Portfolio in the last six months and consequently I want to re-examine this issue. Since this is apparently the only year we can spread the taxes out over four years, I feel that this is the best time to ask the following question:

Is there a threshold (expected) average annual rate of return for the next ten (or eleven?) years that would recommend switching from a standard IRA to a Roth IRA this year for a 55 year old?

My common sense tells me that it might be better to pay 28% of the present value of my portfolio now than 28% of its accumulated (but reduced by the tax) value ten years hence, especially if the annual rates of return implied in the Fool philosophy continue to hold.

I am assuming that my tax obligation will stay at 28% when I retire if I retain the standard IRA and that it will not exceed 28% during the next four years if I pay taxes on the conversion.

If it helps, assume the present standard IRA portfolio is at 50K, my present annual income is 60K, and retirement sources other than the IRA will provide 50K annually. I live in a state that does not tax retirement income. (Does the state tax the rollover from a standard to a Roth?)>>

There is no magic answer to your question. Conversions are tricky and depend on how you will pay the taxes due, what you think the tax rates for you will be in the future versus what they are now, how long the money can stay in the Roth IRA, your estate planning problems/desires, and a few other considerations. In general, if you pay the tax from money other resources (i.e., you don't keep some of the converted IRA for that purpose), if you stay in the same tax bracket in retirement, and you don't have to touch the funds for ten or more years, then conversion probably makes sense. See my analysis on this board at for details. That missive will provide additional food for thought as you make this decision.

And yes, assuming you already pay state income taxes, then your state will want its cut of the income you must declare as a result of the conversion.

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