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To qualify for the 1998 Roth IRA roll over, you can not file married filing separately but must file married filling jointly.

Generally true, but if you live apart from your spouse for the entire year you may qualify for the rollover even if your filing status is MFS.

The roll over will be prorated 25% as income over the years 1998, 99, 00, 01.

It appears that technical corrections will allow you to choose whether the pay the entire tax in one year or prorate over four years.

Question: If you qualify for the roll over by filing married filing jointly in 1998, is there an IRS requirement that you must then file married filing jointly in 1999, 00, 01 or can you file married filing separately in 1999, 00, 01? Do you have an IRS reference to this in the IRS regs for 408a or other reference.>>

My take is the joint return is required only in the year of the conversion. In subsequent years, the income must still be reported (i.e., in '99, '00, and '01), but if you file separate returns it would be reported on the return of the IRA owner at the time of conversion. However, I've seen nothing that provides guidance on this either way, so I can't point you to any official pronouncements for verification.

Maybe Kat in Chicagoland can verify or refute this reply. At any rate, I'm sure he can expand upon it.

I take that last remark as a comment on my ability to write at great length without saying very much. But I'm not insulted; we lawyers take pride in our ability to do that. (g)

Pixy is correct, your rollover doesn't fail if you file separately in one of the later years (or if your income goes over $100,000 in one of the later years). And didn't I provide the cite for this before? Maybe on a different board? Anyway, it's section 408A(c)(3)(B), which doesn't come out and say anything about the later years, but states the requirement for a qualified rollover in terms of the year the rollover occurs. No need for doubt on this question.

KAT in Chicagoland
Tax Guide for Investors
Includes the latest information on
Roth IRA technical corrections
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