How to Undo a Roth Conversion

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How to Undo a Roth Conversion

You can recharacterize your account and get a refund of the taxes you paid when you converted.

I converted my IRA to a Roth in 2011, but now I need the money that I paid in taxes. Is it too late to undo the conversion and get the money back?

No, it isn’t too late. You have until October 15, 2012, to undo a Roth conversion made in 2011. The process is simple: Ask your IRA administrator to recharacterize the account (the term for undoing the conversion), then file an amended return with the IRS (Form 1040X), and you’ll get a refund of the taxes you paid. See the Instructions for Form 1040X for more information about filing an amended return.

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Some people undo a Roth conversion if they have unexpected expenses. Others make the switch if their investments have lost money since they made the conversion; they can reconvert at the lower value and pay a smaller tax bill. For example, if you converted a $100,000 IRA in 2011 and reconvert it at $80,000, you could save $5,000 in taxes if you’re in the 25% bracket.

To reconvert, you have to wait until the calendar year after the original conversion and at least 30 days after the recharacterization -- so you only need to wait 30 days if you recharacterized a 2011 conversion in 2012. Don’t wait too long to convert, though. Tax rates could go up in 2013. For more information about conversion and recharacterization, see IRS Publication 590 Individual Retirement Arrangements.

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