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  • Milad Taghehchian, CPA, CFP(R)

Unlocking the Potential of the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA: A Golden Opportunity Not to Be Missed

In the realm of retirement planning, the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA stands as a formidable tool that, despite being available for a few years, remains underutilized by many. This strategy, known for its ability to significantly enhance one's retirement savings, allows individuals to contribute sums far beyond the standard limits of traditional retirement accounts. However, the clock may be ticking on this opportunity, especially with upcoming changes in tax legislation.

What is a Mega Backdoor Roth IRA?

The Mega Backdoor Roth IRA is not a different type of IRA but rather a strategic method of funneling more money into your Roth IRA through after-tax contributions in a 401(k). This allows individuals to potentially convert tens of thousands of dollars into Roth IRA funds, where it can grow and be withdrawn tax-free in retirement. For 2024, while the regular Roth IRA contributions are capped at $6,500 (or $7,500 for those aged 50 and above), the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA can enable additional contributions up to $46,350.

The Underused Gem

Surprisingly, despite the lucrative nature of this strategy, a significant number of eligible savers have not yet capitalized on it. This oversight might stem from a lack of awareness or the perceived complexity of navigating through the required steps. It involves making after-tax contributions to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, and then transferring those funds into a Roth IRA, either directly or via a Roth 401(k).

The Urgency Due to Tax Law Changes

The urgency to consider this option is heightened by impending tax law revisions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018, which brought numerous changes to retirement savings laws, is set to sunset at the end of 2025. As these laws are renegotiated, the opportunity for high after-tax contributions that can be rolled over into Roth IRAs may well be modified or capped.

Why Consider It Now?

The benefits of the Mega Backdoor Roth IRA are compelling:

  • Tax-Free Growth and Withdrawals: The money in a Roth IRA grows tax-free and can be withdrawn tax-free in retirement, providing a substantial benefit to those in higher tax brackets in their later years.

  • High Contribution Limits: The ability to save significantly more in a Roth IRA via this method is a game-changer for many savers, especially those who are trying to catch up on their retirement savings.

  • Flexibility in Withdrawal: Unlike traditional retirement accounts, Roth IRAs do not require minimum distributions at a certain age, which offers more flexibility in managing retirement funds.

How to Get Started

Getting started with a Mega Backdoor Roth IRA involves several steps. First, ensure your employer’s 401(k) plan allows for after-tax contributions and in-service withdrawals or conversions. Next, determine how much you can contribute after your pre-tax or Roth contributions. Finally, initiate the transfer of funds from your 401(k) to a Roth IRA, either directly or by rolling them over to a Roth 401(k) first.

The Mega Backdoor Roth IRA presents a golden opportunity for those looking to maximize their retirement savings. Given the potential changes in tax laws in the near future, now is an opportune time to explore this strategy. Consult with a financial advisor to understand how this strategy can fit into your overall retirement planning and take full advantage of this powerful tool before it undergoes any legislative transformation.


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