Author Topic: Converting OUT of a ROTH 401k to traditional 401K  (Read 2017 times)

SagCo

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Converting OUT of a ROTH 401k to traditional 401K
« on: November 01, 2019, 01:09:11 PM »
Being new to FIRE, I foolishly put all my 2019 401K dollars into a ROTH 401K. Now that I am trying to look up converting OUT of the Roth 401k to an in-plan 401k (just for 2019), I can't find any information on that process (the internet only seems to think people would want to transfer IN). I figured it would be easy since I've already paid taxes, and therefore after the transition, I would just get a bigger refund come tax return time.

Well, I called my plan administrator and they said it can't be done, but seemed less than confident when their reasoning was because 'that's what the IRS says.' I can't find anything on the IRS website related to this, but you all seem like a tax-savvy group - has anyone else encountered this issue?

Thank you!
« Last Edit: November 01, 2019, 01:18:22 PM by SagCo »

gocurrycracker

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Re: Converting OUT of a ROTH 401k to traditional 401K
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2019, 01:47:24 AM »
You can't recharacterize Roth 401k contributions. That is what the IRS says.

You can change future 401k contributions to Traditional as long as you are still under the annual 401k contribution limit. ($19k in 2019.)

I don't have the specific IRS statement in mind, but a quick google search found this:

"When you contribute to a 401k account, your choice between a traditional account and a Roth account is irrevocable. You can change your choice for future contributions, but you canít undo your choice for contributions you already made as you can when you contribute to a Roth IRA."
https://fairmark.com/retirement/roth-accounts/designated-roth-accounts/compared-with-roth-ira/

SagCo

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Re: Converting OUT of a ROTH 401k to traditional 401K
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2019, 04:47:31 AM »
Well. Darn. It.

(Thank you for the information - I appreciate it! I'll just be forward-looking for 2020)

gocurrycracker

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Re: Converting OUT of a ROTH 401k to traditional 401K
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2019, 07:39:04 PM »
Yeah, it is a bummer.

Recharacterization exists for IRAs because it is possible that you contribute to one and then later realize you are not eligible to contribute or deduct because income was too high, so you are able to make a change.

With the 401k, there is no income limit. There might also be a coordination issue between a companies benefits department, payroll, and the 401k provider...

... not that it matters to an individual at tax time, but that is how it is.