Can I convert my IRA to a Roth? Can I use RMDs to open a Roth?


Q. I have no earned income – just a pension and dividends and I’m older than 75. only pension and div. and am over 75. Can I convert my IRA to a Roth? Can I use my RMDs to open a Roth?
— Investor

A. Let’s go over each of your questions.

First, while there is no age limitation to contribute to a Roth IRA, you must have earned income (W-2 or 1099) to be able to make a contribution, said Matthew DeFelice, a certified financial planner with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

Pensions, dividends and interest do not count as earned income, he said, so it seems you don’t qualify.

There are also income limitations, and if you earn too much, you can’t make a contribution to a Roth.

“The 2019 income limits and phase out ranges are $193,000 to $203,000 for a married couple filing jointly and $122,000 to $137,000 for a single person,” he said. “Contribution maximums are $6,000 each year for those under age 50 or $7,000 if you are 50 or older.”

You can convert all or a portion of your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA at any age, DeFelice said, regardless of whether or not you have any earned income.

“There are no contribution limits or income limits to do a Roth conversion – just be aware that you will pay income tax at ordinary income rates on the amount you convert,” he said.

And finally, you cannot use your RMDs from a traditional IRA for your Roth conversion.

“Any amount you convert into a Roth must be above and beyond your RMD that year,” he said.

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This story was originally published on May 24, 2019. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.