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I have a number of questions regarding 403(b) and 457 plans.

The plans, as administered by my employer, are handled by an outside broker who seems to be sorely lacking in detailed information about these plans and appears to be intent in selling participants on his favorite high load mutual funds. The only limitations imposed on contributions are those set by the IRS. My employer makes no contributions to the plan.

I have been a participant in the 403(b) plan for several years. Recently I terminated the plan and rolled over the assets into an IRA. I did this in preparation to rolling the assets into my Roth IRA. I have had the Roth IRA for over 5 years and over 60 years old, so anything which goes into the Roth is still immediately available with penalties. this can easily serve as my source of emergency funds, if needed.

I have a taxable brokerage account where I have been able to achieve after-tax returns of approximately three times the yield of the best investment vehicles available through the 403(b); hence my interest in converting the 403(b) assets into the IRA and then into the Roth IRA.

Due to several fortuitous events, I now have a large sum of available cash. I have no mortgage expense, I have excellent health coverage, and no other debt except an automobile loan at a very favorable rate of interest (0.9APR).

I am trying to develop a plan for imminent retirement in 3 years. I want to maximize my before-tax contributions during the next 3 years, rolling over the assets into my IRA as frequently as possible, and then moving the assets (paying the required taxes, of course) into my Roth. My tax bracket in retirement will definitely be greater than my tax bracket during the next 3 years.

I have been employed continuously for 15 years by the same employer, making me eligible for increased elective contributions. In the 403(b), I am allowed the maximum elective amount this year of $16,000. This is comprised of the normal limit of $13,000 plus an additional long-term employee elective of $3,000 (this has nothing to do with the catch-up amount of $3,000). I am also eligible for the over-50 catch-up amount of $3,000 for a total of $19,000 in contributions to the 403(b) this year.

This year my employer initiated a 457 plan for which I am also eligible. The 457 plan has the additional provision of allowing an accelerated catch-up amount equal to the maximum elective contribution for the year during the last 3 years prior to retirement. Is this amount the regular elective amount of $13,000, the $16,000 to which I am entitled as a long-term employee, or the $19,000 total allowed contributions for this year? Is this accelerated catch-up also available for the 403(b) plan?

Conceivably, if all contributions are the same for both plans, I could be eligible to contribute as much as $38,000 to each plan. Does the $41,000 limit on contributions this year apply to EACH of the plans separately or is it the aggregate limit on BOTH plans combined?

At a seminar a year or two ago, the speaker talked about a maximum limit on total catch-up contributions. The figures given were $15,000 for 403(b) plans and $22,000 for 457 plans. I can't find these limits specified in the Internal Revenue documentation. The only such limit that I can find is a maximum of $15,000 total additional contributions under the provisions for long-term employees.

As noted earlier, I want to roll-over plan assets into my IRA as frequently as possible. How often can this be done? And then, how often can I convert assets in my IRA to my Roth? Is there any minimum or maximum amount that can be converted to the Roth at any one time or in any one period (such as calendar year)?

I have also seen information regarding the roll-out of Roth-403(b) and Roth-457 plans (in 2006 as I recall). Where can I get more info on these (even though it looks like they might be too late to help me)?
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