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If I were to instead roll this money over to a ROTH IRA, and pay taxes on the money, is that money considered a ROTH "contribution" and therefore available to me to withdrawal without penalty? Or am I basically completely unable to draw on these funds without penalty?

though still a 'simple question' ,you're now beyond my expertise.

i *believe* it depends on how old the Roth is (if over 5 yrs, maybe)
and how old you are (if over 59.5, you can withdraw from IRA without penalty're right that a withdrawal would be subject to tax as ordinary income)

if you don't get an expert answer by ,say, noon tomorrow, ask at the Tax board --

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