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In fact, my retired parents currently pay $0 in federal income tax so the taxes they paid to convert to a Roth was totally wasted.

Maybe not. As I understand it, when you get to 70 1/2, you MUST take out a certain percent of a regular IRA every year whether you want/need to or not, but with a ROTH IRA you can happily leave it there until you decide it's time to take it out. So they can save that ROTH money for the later years when their costs might be significantly higher due to medical costs, or they can just enjoy the option of taking more or less out each year as they see fit without the feds telling them how much they MUST take out....

RDW
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