Employers Permitted to Allow Conversion of Retirement Plan Accounts to In-Plan Roth Accounts

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Employers that sponsor defined contribution retirement plans, such as 401(k), 403(b) plans and governmental 457(b) plans, can now allow certain participants to convert their retirement plan accounts into “Roth” accounts within the plan, through an “in-plan Roth conversion.” In-plan Roth conversions are permitted under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which was signed by President Obama on September 27. The chief tax advantage of a Roth account is that, when distributions are made from it, they are entirely tax-free, in the same manner as a Roth IRA.

An in-plan Roth conversion is an in-plan rollover of any or all of a plan participant’s account (other than amounts made as Roth contributions to the plan) to a designated Roth account in the plan. The plan must permit Roth contributions and be amended to permit the in-plan Roth conversions. In addition, the participant must be at least age 59½ to make the in-plan Roth conversion. If the plan does not now permit in-service distributions at age 59½, it must be amended to do so, and the amendment can limit such distributions to amounts used in an in-plan Roth conversion.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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