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Before I knew about the income limit imposed for Married Filing Separate I contributed $1800 to a Roth, then reclassified it to a Traditional and then converted it again back to a Roth. The reality is that the 1800 was part of the 5500, but the full $5500 is not listed in line 1.

Okay, that's not just put(ting) $5500 into an IRA and then once funds have settled, we do the conversion right to the Roth IRA. There's a lot more to recharacterizing (not reclassifying) and then converting back than doing a contribution and converting it immediately.

I take back my previous statement that you appear to have been doing everything to use the 'back-door Roth option' correctly. Given this set of circumstances, there actually appear to be a lot of potential issues, like not waiting the required time period (until the next tax year) to convert a recharacterization from a Roth back into a Roth, and not properly accounting for any differences between the original contribution and the amount(s) transferred due to multiple moves. This scenario is way beyond where you should be getting advice from a message board.

I'm going to have to e-mail this guy and see where he's coming up with this stuff

Presumably, it's based on the information he got from you, probably through a questionnaire, an interview and/or documentation that you provided. If you haven't already done so, you need to precisely document what was done for your entire 2015 contribution/conversion process, backed up by brokerage statements and 1099-Rs. Then you need to make an appointment with your tax preparer (not just e-mail him) and sit down and figure out what, if any, rules you broke, and how to fix and/or pay for those issues, as well as how to have them documented in your tax return.

the fact that I paid over $600 to have him do our taxes kind of annoys me. Are accountants like financial advisors?

Well, it's not clear that your tax preparer ever got the full story, as at least with us, you seem to have 'tossed in' things that you apparently didn't think were important, but actually are very important, like the recharacterization of the $1800. So, if you didn't give him the precise documentation of what was done, then he would have a hard time getting your taxes right - GIGO. If you did give him precise documentation of what you did, then it may be that there should be a taxable amount on 16b because you broke rules.

All of that is why you need to sit down and talk with him about what you did and how it's documented.

The best time to get tax advice is BEFORE you decide to make a change, like recharacterizing from a Roth, and then converting back into a Roth or deciding to file Married, Separate but still wanting to take advantage of contributing to a Roth. The fact that you didn't understand that Roth contributions are severely limited when filing MFS leads me to believe that you didn't consult a tax professional until you decided your taxes were going to be too complex for you to do on your own, after you had already taken the actions that made them complex.

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