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<In addition, if that investment has appreciation (hopefully a lot), you will need to pay capital gain and state tax on the sale of that investment in order to pay the Roth tax. Roth conversion seems to defeat the basics of IRA, ie tax deferral.>

Remember, the government is not doing any of this to make us richer. The Roth was done so that people would convert (and pay tax now) to balance the budget now. They want the tax money we would normally pay when we start taking distributions NOW. Those who roll over an IRA into a Roth are doing this. (This does not mean it is a bad idea for someone to do this; it is just another short-sighted government scheme: hide the problem now and let the future suffer. The taxes you pay now you will not pay later (unless the @#$%^&*(
change the law again)).
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