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<<Back in late 2000 I felt very confident that the market was heading south (although not how much and how fast, wow!) so I researched wasy to get at my money in my ROTH IRA's. Basically, since the money in there, except the capital gains, was after tax money, I could withdraw it an not generate a taxable transaction.>>

That's basically true with respect to contributions. Conversion funds can be a little bit more tricky. But I'll assume that your research revealed the appropriate answers.

<< In addition, the tax man says that $10k can be used for "first time" home purchases. So, I took $10 from my wife's and mine ROTH acounts, put the money down on a rental property and started renting it out in 10/01.>>

Oops...I'm not so sure that your research in this area was fruitful. The first time exclusion only applies to penalties on the distribution...not any taxes. So if you pulled out "earnings" from the Roth IRA, you could still have a little bit of a problem.

Not only that, the "first time" exclusion applies only to a personal residence (one in which you live)...not to rental property. There are other requirements relative to the "first time" exclusion, but there is really no need to get into them right now.

Good luck on your real estate venture.
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