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Hi Bebefoot, and lucky you! Where in Europe?

<<1. First of all, I was reading in the info on IRAs that those eligible for an IRA were people earning income, etc., etc. If I am no longer earning income in the States can I still maintain an IRA??>>

Several issues here:
If by "maintain" you mean "keep conributing to" that depends upon your income--or your husband's income. The IRS doesn't care where you earn your money :-) Go on to #2, below.

If your question is about "maintaining" rather than adding to, your current IRA $$ is fine if whatever company is holding your account doesn't freak out at your foreign address! (Hey, it happens...) Your IRA has to be U.S.-based. Now, whether you can undertake activity in your current account while you're overseas is another matter--that depends on your broker. Most won't allow it; some will, as long as THE ACCOUNT maintains a U.S. address.

Voice of experience: Be very sure of your broker's comfort with your situation. It gets ugly when they freak.

<<2. As far as I understand, I won't be able to contribute to my IRA from Europe, correct??>>

Again, several issues come together here--what's your question, exactly?

If you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. If you qualify for & use the foreign exclusion to exclude ALL your income, you cannot contribute, because for tax purposes excluded income is not income. [Are you taking the housing exclusion as well? Same applies.]

If you still have enough income after the exclusion to allow an IRA contribution, you can contribute.

If you're not working or all your income is excluded, but your spouse has taxable income after the exclusion(s), enough to fund IRAs, you can contribute.

Now, will the broker handling your accounts accept deposits to your account while you're overseas? Most likely not--but some will. And some that will accept the deposit still won't allow you to buy funds or stocks as long as you're out of their licensed area. Worst case, you may find yourself scheduling an annual 'home' visit to take care of financial matters.

<<3. I'm thinking about converting it to a ROTH. Since I can't contribute, wouldn't this be a better option for me??>>

A Roth is a fine thing, but converting is a separate issue from the above problems. Thinking long term, will you be better off taking the tax hit upon conversion vs. paying taxes on distributions later? You'll have to do the math. What's your income level in relation to the cut-offs for eligibility?

Will your broker let you do anything with the funds whether they're Roth or traditional?

If you don't mind a suggestion, as a new expat there's a bit of research in your future. Start with IRS pubs 54 and 514. Then research your broker! And if you find one that offers everything you want & need, email me please--we're in a bind on this ourselves.

Cheers,
kse4
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