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Author: hare Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 76080  
Subject: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/24/1998 5:23 PM
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Hello,
I am considering moving a 6 figure IRA to a Roth IRA, paying income taxes on gains now vs. 14 years from now when I access money. Reason for this is I expect minimum income tax rate in 98. Sooo, what say you fools. I dont know whether to pay Uncle Sam now at 15 percent tax on gains or pay in 14 years at who knows what! Input is much appreciated.
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Author: JackPoint One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3011 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/24/1998 8:21 PM
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>I am considering moving a 6 figure IRA to a Roth IRA,
>paying income taxes on gains now vs. 14 years from
>now when I access money. Reason for this is I expect
>minimum income tax rate in 98. Sooo, what say you
>fools. I dont know whether to pay Uncle Sam now at 15
>percent tax on gains or pay in 14 years at who knows
>what! Input is much appreciated.

Hm. I may be mistaken, but I think that when you convert a regular IRA to a Roth IRA, the converted amount is treated like regular income. So when you convert that 6-figure amount, either you get six figures' worth of extra income in 1998-- which would probably put you over the income limit for doing a Roth conversion-- or you take a fourth of that as income in each of 1998-2001, which will most likely put you out of the 15% bracket.

YMMV, and TMFPixy may have something to say, but I'd advise you to talk this over carefully with a competent tax dude before you proceed. You can make this switch any time through Dec. 31, and the tax consequences will be more or less the same...


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Author: gmaxwell Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3012 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/24/1998 8:25 PM
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ditto to Jackpoint's message -- it's not a capital gain, it's treated like regular income. Wait for Pixy or Kat to weigh in on this issue.

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Author: JeanDavid Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3013 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/24/1998 8:46 PM
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<I am considering moving a 6 figure IRA to a Roth IRA, paying income taxes on gains now vs. 14 years from now when I access money. Reason for this is I expect minimum income tax rate in 98. Sooo, what say you fools. I dont know whether to pay Uncle Sam now at 15 percent tax on gains or pay in 14 years at who knows what! Input is much appreciated.>

Subject to correction by TMFPixy or KATfromChicagoland,
I think it will go like this. Let's assume your 6-figure account is $160,000. If it is more, things will merely get worse.

If your adjusted gross income is less than $100K, or whatever it is, you roll over the $160K. To your adjusted gross income for this year (not including the amount of the rollover) you add 1/4 of the $160K and figure out your taxes. Making a lot of assumptions, this will put you into the 31% or 36% incremental tax bracket, not the 15% bracket, and will do so for the next three years as well. Of course If your adjusted gross income this year is over the $100K, or whatever it is, then you will not be allowed the rollover at all. This is probably NOT your situation, because if it were, you would not be talking about the 15% tax rate.

You may want to keep your regular income low for the next three years as well as this year because, although it will not affect your eligibility to make this rollover, if you start making $90,000 a year, adding the $40K to that will put you (still making lots of assumptions) in the 39.6% federal tax bracket. Worse, BTY, if you have a state income tax too.

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Author: tc001 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3017 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/24/1998 9:15 PM
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The three prior posts were correct. You can accept the entire amount of the rollover as income in 1998 or spread it over four years. Either way, some will almost definitely be pushed out of the 15% bracket.

My bigger concern is that you understand what the tax impact will be so you don't underestimate what you need to pay. This might result in having to pay taxes from the rollover itself if you don't have sufficient funds outside the IRA to handle it. That would be a critical mistake which is far, far worse than just getting hit with a higher tax rate.

And to JackPoint:

Who is YMMV?

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Author: JeanDavid Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3019 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/24/1998 9:25 PM
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<You can accept the entire amount of the rollover as income in 1998 or spread it over four years.>

Unless they corrections bill changes it, you get no choice, you MUST spread it over four years.

I amagine this will help most people, but it is easy to imagine cases where it could hurt a lot.

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Author: JeanDavid Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3020 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/24/1998 9:26 PM
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<Who is YMMV?? >

Yancey Michael Murgatroyd Vickers.

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Author: TMFPixy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3031 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/25/1998 11:54 AM
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Greetings, Hare, and welcome.

<<I am considering moving a 6 figure IRA to a Roth IRA, paying income taxes on gains now vs. 14 years from now when I access money. Reason for this is I expect minimum income tax rate in 98. Sooo, what say you fools. I dont know whether to pay Uncle Sam now at 15 percent tax on gains or pay in 14 years at who knows what! Input is much appreciated.>>

As others have pointed out, when you convert that IRA to a Roth the sum must be declared as income ratably over the next four years. At six figures, that's at least $25K per year, and it will be taxed at the marginal rates in effect in those years. That may or may not be in the 15% bracket depending on your other income.

Also, you should consider how you'll pay those taxes. If you expect to take the taxes from the amounts being rolled, then almost certainly you're better off leaving the money in the traditional IRA. See the information at http://boards.fool.com/Registered/Message.asp?id=1040013000441002&sort=postdate for additional details.

Regards….Pixy


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Author: TMFPixy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3032 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/25/1998 11:55 AM
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Tc001,

<<Who is YMMV?>>

That's obvious to me. It's Yeoman Mavens of Magnificient Value, an obvious reference to all of the erudite posters in this folder.

Regards….Pixy


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Author: tc001 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3038 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/25/1998 5:14 PM
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<<Who is YMMV?>>

JeanDavid:

<<Yancey Michael Murgatroyd Vickers>>

Pixy:

<<That's obvious to me. It's Yeoman Mavens of Magnificient Value, an obvious reference to all of the
erudite posters in this folder.>>


I'll probably end up looking very stupid when I finally get the real answer, but right now I'm beginning to fear the chain of responses that may come first. And JackPoint is sitting back laughing all the way ;)

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Author: KATinChicagoland Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3062 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 7:43 AM
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<<I am considering moving a 6 figure IRA to a Roth IRA, paying income taxes on gains now vs. 14 years from now when I access money. Reason for this is I expect minimum income tax rate in 98. Sooo, what say you fools. I dont know whether to pay Uncle Sam now at 15 percent tax on gains or pay in 14 years at who knows what! Input is much appreciated.>>

You've already received a number of thoughtful responses so I'll just make a couple of points. One is that your decision isn't necessarily to roll or not to roll. You can roll *part* of your IRA if that works as a way to keep most or all of the rollover in the 15% bracket.

People who don't work with taxes all the time are not necessarily familiar with the way tax brackets work. I've included a page on this subject at:

http://www.fairmark.com/begin/bracket.htm

If you expect to be in the 28% bracket when you retire in 14 years, you should benefit from rolling the entire amount provided that you can pay the tax out of non-IRA money.

And it's virtually certain now that the 4-year spread on taxes from a Roth IRA conversion will be elective. The only way this won't happen is if the entire IRS restructuring bill goes down in flames, which is hard to imagine even though there are some disagreements between the House and Senate on some important particulars.

KAT in Chicagoland
http://www.fairmark.com
Tax Guide for Investors
Includes the latest information on
Roth IRA technical corrections


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Author: Rayvt Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3068 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 9:23 AM
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Yes, the rollover is definitely going to push you into the 28% or maybe 31% marginal tax bracket for the next four years. But that's not the most important point, IMHO.

If you work out the numbers (accurately! Should go without saying, but most of the comparisons I have seen fail to be accurate), there is NO difference between paying taxes now and paying them in the future (i.e. rollover vs not rolling over), if the tax bracket is the same.
But the present tax is known, and the future tax is an uncertainty. Normally, investors require compensation in order to take on an uncertainty (another name for risk). You are not being compensated in this case. And uncertainties abound.

You might be in a lower tax bracket when you retire. In which case you are paying a large tax now to avoid a smaller tax later on. Dumb!

Congress might change the tax laws sometime between now and 30 years from now. (No! Really??? They would never do THAT, would they??) You might well pay the tax now _and_ pay a tax (probably an indirect tax rather than a direct one) in the future.

Give this a lot of thought before you take the leap. Remember, if you decide to not rollover, you can always chage your mind later and do it. But if you rollover now, you can never change your mind an undo it.

Ray


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Author: piz Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3069 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 9:43 AM
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KATinChicagoland wrote:
<<...And it's virtually certain now that the 4-year spread on taxes from a Roth IRA conversion will be elective. The only way this won't happen is if the entire IRS restructuring bill goes down in flames, which is hard to imagine even though there are some disagreements between the House and Senate on some important particulars.>>

Am I to understand that there is no current law covering traditional-to-Roth transfers? That the law is still in the works and could change to anything that Congressional whimsy dictates? I guess the odds are against a significant change at this point, but if the law is not yet on the books then why should we count on it at all?

Me, pessimistic about the government? Why, yes. Yes I am. :-)

Thanks,
Piz


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Author: JeanDavid Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3071 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 11:02 AM
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<Give this a lot of thought before you take the leap. Remember, if you decide to not rollover, you can always chage your mind later and do it. But if you rollover now, you can never change your mind an undo it.>

While I agree with everything Ray has said here, you should not overlook that it is quite likely (not to be confused with certain) that you will be in a higher tax bracket when you retire than you are now. While your salary will drop to $0 (unless you have a pension plan, perhaps a defined benefit plan), if you have started early enough and used Foolish investing methods, you may find you have a very large pile of money ($1 million to $2.5 million) at the end, and taking 5% of it out every year could easily put you into a higher bracket.

OTOH, as I think Ray wants you to keep in mind, my favorite quote from Mark Twain goes: No one's money is safe while the legislature is in session.

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Author: TMFPixy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3072 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 11:53 AM
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Piz,

<<Am I to understand that there is no current law covering traditional-to-Roth transfers? That the law is still in the works and could change to anything that Congressional whimsy dictates? I guess the odds are against a significant change at this point, but if the law is not yet on the books then why should we count on it at all?

Me, pessimistic about the government? Why, yes. Yes I am. :-) >>

Don't let your antipathy to Congress and our government blind you to the facts. The law already exists, but it had some gaping holes and problems. That's why the technical corrections were introduced in the House and the Senate. KAT is merely trying to point out that some of the obvious flaws in existing law and in the technical corrections version introduced in the House are about to be - at long last - fixed. When - and if - the Senate version passes, we may ELECT to claim converted IRA as income in 1998 instead of HAVING to spread that income over the next four years. Additionally, we won't have to worry about the withdrawal pecking order specified in the House version that caused the IRS to recommend maintenance of separate conversion and contributory Roth IRA. Instead, we need open only one account for both contributions and conversions.

And yes, the rules of the game can change at any time Congress chooses. There's nothing new about that. What passes this year can be changed next year. Typically, though, those acting under the provisions of prior law are grandfathered from adverse effects. Want a guarantee of that? You ain't gonna get any, just precedence based on prior Congressional actions that show it to be the case.

Regards…Pixy



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Author: hare Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3073 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 1:47 PM
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Kat,
I am assuming that if I make 0 dollars in 1998, move 100k to a Roth from a traditional, that I will pay 15 percent tax in each of the 4 years, even though year two, threee and or four I may have income that puts me in a 28 percent bracket. What I am getting at is the 15 percent tax rate frozen for 4 years? Also, assuming I will be in the 28 brackett at retirement in 14 years, am I being foolish to do the Roth, considereing that the taxes on the 100k could be growing for 14 years more before the 28 percent tax? Sorry for the winded reply, but I my accountant doesnt have the answers YET to many of my questions.

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Author: TMFPixy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3075 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 2:49 PM
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Hare,

<<I am assuming that if I make 0 dollars in 1998, move 100k to a Roth from a traditional, that I will pay 15 percent tax in each of the 4 years, even though year two, threee and or four I may have income that puts me in a 28 percent bracket. What I am getting at is the 15 percent tax rate frozen for 4 years? Also, assuming I will be in the 28 brackett at retirement in 14 years, am I being foolish to do the Roth, considereing that the taxes on the 100k could be growing for 14 years more before the 28 percent tax? Sorry for the winded reply, but I my accountant doesnt have the answers YET to many of my questions.>>

You presume incorrectly. If you have 0 AGI in 1998 and you use the 4-year spread on the conversion income, you'll be in the 15% bracket in 1998. In 1999, 2000, and 2001 your other income will be added to the $25K you must declare in those years. The rates will be those in effect in those years based on your total taxable income in those years. Thus, if you have $200K in other taxable ncome in 1999, the $25K conversion money makes that $225K, and your marginal bracket will reflect that fact by being well beyond the 15% range.

The second part of your question depends on a number of factors. However, paying the conversion taxes due from money other than the conversion IRA should make it more advantageous to you to use the Roth. For some comparisons, check this post in this folder http://boards.fool.com/Registered/Message.asp?id=1040013000441002&sort=postdate or visit KAT's site for some further explanations on what's involved.( http://www.fairmark.com/sitemap.htm ).

Regards....Pixy


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Author: AAHammer Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3077 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 3:14 PM
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Hare wrote,

<<I am assuming that if I make 0 dollars in 1998, move 100k to a Roth from a traditional, that I will pay 15 percent tax in each of the 4 years, even though year two, threee and or four I may have income that puts me in a 28 percent bracket. What I am getting at is the 15 percent tax rate frozen for 4 years?>>

TMFPixy wrote
<<If you have 0 AGI in 1998 and you use the 4-year spread on the conversion income, you'll be in the 15% bracket in 1998. In 1999, 2000, and 2001 your other
income will be added to the $25K you must declare in those years. The rates will be those in effect in those years based on your total taxable income in those years. Thus, if you have $200K in other taxable ncome in 1999, the $25K conversion money makes that $225K, and your marginal bracket will reflect that fact by being well beyond the 15% range.>>

*IF* the technical corrections are passed as they are currently being considered (that is, to give individuals the option to pay all the taxes at once rather than over four years), you might want to consider the possibility of declaring the whole rollover as taxable income for 1998. I haven't done the math yet for myself (it can wait until next February or so, since I've already converted my IRA's and I won't need to make estimated tax payments), but here's a rough guess:

For example, let's assume 100,000 of AGI leads to 90,000 of taxable income.
If we pay taxes on 100% of the rollover in 1998: At 15% up to $40K and 28% above that, the federal taxes would be 0.15*40K + 0.28*50K = $20,000.

If we pay taxes on 25% per year for 1998-2001: In the scenario outlined in the original message, there was no other income in 1998, so the AGI would be 25,000, and taxable income = $15K, leading to tax of $2,250.
In each successive year, marginal tax rate of 28% leads to taxes on rollover of 0.28*25K=$7,000.
Thus the total tax bill over four years is $23,250.

Of course there is a benefit to paying the taxes later. A quick IRR calculation suggests that, in this case (ignoring estimated tax payments and all else being equal), it is advantageous to defer payment of the taxes if your money can yield 8.9% or more.

Obviously, the example and assumptions are not exact, but hopefully they're a starting point for some thought on the subject.

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Author: TMFPixy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3078 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 5:16 PM
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AAHammer,

<<Of course there is a benefit to paying the taxes later. A quick IRR calculation suggests that, in this case (ignoring estimated tax payments and all else being equal), it is advantageous to defer payment of the taxes if your money can yield 8.9% or more.>>

How Foolish of you! I love the way you think.

Regards...Pixy

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Author: KATinChicagoland Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3079 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/27/1998 8:49 PM
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<<Am I to understand that there is no current law covering traditional-to-Roth transfers? That the law is still in the works and could change to anything that Congressional whimsy dictates?>>

Others have answered this generally. I just want to point out that the main thing up in the air was how Congress will treat distributions following a rollover. The original law was *too* generous, creating a loophole for those who wanted to avoid penalties on early withdrawal. We knew right away that Congress would fix this, but the question was how. It now appears that the fix will be done in a very reasonable, taxpayer-friendly way.

KAT in Chicagoland
http://www.fairmark.com
Tax Guide for Investors
Includes the latest information on
Roth IRA technical corrections


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Author: JackPoint One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3094 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/28/1998 6:09 PM
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<<Who is YMMV?...>>

<<I'll probably end up looking very stupid when I finally get the real answer, but right now I'm beginning to fear the chain of responses that may come first. And JackPoint is sitting back laughing all the way ;)>>

Jack Point is usually amused. "When I have nothing else to laugh at, I laugh at myself 'till I ache for it." But it's about time someone gave you a straight answer:

"YMMV" means "Your Mileage May Vary"-- i.e. (roughly) "my advice/information may not be quite right for your situation, so double-check before selling the farm."


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Author: orangeblood Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3095 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/28/1998 8:44 PM
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KAT,

>>>>I just want to point out that the main thing up in the air was how Congress will treat distributions following a rollover. The original law was *too* generous, creating a loophole for those who wanted to avoid penalties on early withdrawal. We knew right away that Congress would fix this, but the question was how. It now appears that the fix will be done in a very reasonable, taxpayer-friendly way.<<<<

Would you please expound on this?

Thanks,

orangeblood

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Author: KATinChicagoland Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3096 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 4/28/1998 8:53 PM
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<<Would you please expound on this?>>

Always dangerous asking a lawyer to expound. But I'll be brief, for once. Details on the Roth IRA technical corrections can be found at:

http://www.fairmark.com/rothira/tech.htm

KAT in Chicagoland
http://www.fairmark.com
Tax Guide for Investors
Includes the latest information on
Roth IRA technical corrections


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Author: wizzle Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3159 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 5/3/1998 7:15 PM
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I would venture a guess that many of us checking this board are baby boomers. Our view of social security is cynical at best. Sooooooooooooo.....what to do???

Is there a Fool board for legislative action regarding investing??? If not....let's start here. Go Fools!!!! I see no reason not to get tax breaks because MY government can't keep up the pyramid scheme....er...sorry....the social security system. If I've invested in my own future....give me a break....more specifically...a tax break. <<writing these inspiring words down to email to her congressional reps>>>

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Author: TMFPixy Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 3180 of 76080
Subject: Re: Roth IRA transfer Date: 5/4/1998 6:26 PM
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Wizzle,

<<I would venture a guess that many of us checking this board are baby boomers. Our view of social security is cynical at best. Sooooooooooooo.....what to do???

Is there a Fool board for legislative action regarding investing??? If not....let's start here. Go Fools!!!! I see no reason not to get tax breaks because MY government can't keep up the pyramid scheme....er...sorry....the social security system. If I've invested in my own future....give me a break....more specifically...a tax break. <<writing these inspiring words down to email to her congressional reps>>> >>

Nope, there ain't no such folder. I suppose here is good enough to encourage discussion. If interest merits, we can always request such a folder be established.

Regards…..Pixy




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