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so if i make all my contributions after tax, my tax bill will be higher?

Yes. Conversely, if you make all of your 401k contributions pre-tax, your tax bill will be lower.

but this will not make a larger refund, it doesn't change my tax rate.

I'm not sure where you are leading with this.

If you earn more taxable dollars, you pay more in taxes. If you have fewer taxable dollars in income, you pay less in taxes.
hmmm subtle difference. the gains are taxed in either before or after tax contributions but the pre-tax contribution is taxed also?
is that the complete picture?on retirement, 401 payouts are taxed as Income, not the lesser capitol gains (excuse me Long term Capitol gains)

Pretty much. Your 401k is taxed as income because it is, technically, deferred salary. Because you've already paid tax on the after-tax contributions, those dollars are not re-taxed.

it does appear that 100% pre-tax contributions puts more dollars into the 401k and also reduces your (taxible) income, so you pay fewer (dollars) in tax. win now, win later. but a larger amount of taxes is paid in the long run?

It depends on whether your tax rate is higher now or in retirement [which you can not know at the moment]. Personally, I'm more interested in worrying about maximizing my personal take rather than minimizing Uncle Sam's.

the whole idea is for me to pay between $1 and $500 dollars for the 2002 tax year. this will keep Sam from a free loan, yet make my tax bill a breeze to pay.

That's up to you. I don't find writing a cheque a big hardship in April.

my estimates on taxes for the Roth conversion will most likely exceed my normal refund, thus a Large tax bill. but this Is a good year to make the conversion due to mutual funds negative returns.

Because of the way Roth IRA conversions are taxed, it makes sense to perform a conversion when the assets in the IRA are down.

However, I have no idea which direction the market will go next and whether this is a good time or not [compared to the future].


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