The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) also makes it easier to make Roth conversions inside your 401(k) plan (if your plan permits).

A 401(k) in-plan Roth conversion (also called an “in-plan Roth rollover”) allows you to transfer the non-Roth portion of your 401(k) plan account (for example, your pretax contributions and company match) into a designated Roth account within the same plan. You’ll have to pay federal income tax now on the amount you convert, but qualified distributions from your Roth account in the future will be entirely income tax free. Also, the 10% early distribution penalty generally doesn’t apply to amounts you convert.

While in-plan conversions have been around since 2010, they haven’t been widely used, because they were available only if you were otherwise entitled to a distribution from your plan–for example, upon terminating employment, turning 59½, becoming disabled, or in other limited circumstances.

ATRA has eliminated the requirement that you be eligible for a distribution from the plan in order to make an in-plan conversion. Beginning in 2013, if your plan permits, you can convert any part of your traditional 401(k) plan account into a designated Roth account. The new law also applies to 403(b) and 457(b) plans that allow Roth contributions.

Contact us today to help you with your questions in regards to whether it makes sense to convert your contributions into a Roth IRA. Manuel A. Martinez is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ focused on helping families and small businesses in the Charleston and Mount Pleasant South Carolina area.  We provide hourly financial planning services and asset management services.

The following information is reprinted with permission from Forefield, Inc. Copyright 2006-2013.