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Yo can realistically only do this if you don't have any tax-deferred money in an IRA, due to the pro-rata rule. Some people may be able to do the hokey-pokey and transfer an IRA into a 401K, but how many 401K plans allow that?

You might be surprised. Big companies and big investment houses are totally aware of this feature of the tax code and make it dead simple to take advantage of it. They are also aware of the Mega Backdoor Roth and make that dead simple as well. Vanguard makes damn sure you are aware of it every time you log in.

Better to put $20,000 into a buy-and-hold index fund and let it grow untaxed until you eventually start withdrawing and paying LTGC tax rate.

Why not put as much as you can into a Roth and never pay the LTGC rate at all? There is no downside. There just isn't. Why is paying taxes you can easily avoid better than not paying taxes?
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