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right, essentially the same as a conversion

No, it's not essentially the same thing as a conversion. You must withdraw the money and it CANNOT be directly converted to a Roth IRA. You may put it into your checking account, along with all of the money from your paycheck, and then take out a sum to make a Roth IRA contribution. Since money is fungible, so who's to say if it's money from your paycheck or money from the IRA withdrawal?

There are specific limits on Roth IRA contributions for both your income and the amount that can be contributed each year to Roth IRAs. For conversions, there are no income limits and the only upper limit on what can be converted is how much you have in the Traditional IRA and how much you want to pay taxes on. So, conversions are very different from contributions, and not 'essentially alike' at all, other than they both are a means to put money into a Roth account, and you have to have paid income taxes on the amount put in.

you pay taxes when you do that with a regular IRA as well

You pay taxes based on the required withdrawal from an inherited IRA. For a conversion, there's no amount required to be converted. The similarity is that you will pay taxes on the amount converted, but there's no requirement to do a conversion.

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