Retirement Planning

Mega Backdoor Roth Conversions

Mega backdoor Roth conversions give high-income earners an opportunity to participate in after-tax savings and tax-free investing. This strategy is available to individuals that participate in a qualified retirement plan, such as a 401(k), that allows after-tax contributions to the plan.

Who Should Consider a Mega Backdoor Roth Conversion

A mega backdoor Roth conversion may benefit individuals who are:

  • High income-earners with sufficient cash flow.
  • Employees who can maximize retirement plan deferrals and still have a desire and ability for further savings.
  • Sole proprietors with solo 401(k) plans.
  • Individuals who expect to be in a high tax bracket in their retirement years and therefore want to accumulate retirement savings in a Roth IRA.

What is a Roth IRA?

A Roth IRA is a tax-free retirement account. Contributions to Roth accounts are made with after-tax dollars, the investments grow tax-deferred, and so long as distributions are qualified, taxes are not due at distribution. Unlike traditional retirement accounts, Roth IRAs do not have required minimum distributions.

Benefits of a Mega Backdoor Roth Conversion

A limitation of Roth IRAs is that contribution eligibility is phased out for individual taxpayers with income between $146,000 and $161,000 and is phased out between $230,000 and $240,000 for taxpayers married filing jointly.  As a workaround, high-income earners may be familiar with making non-deductible IRA contributions then facilitating a backdoor Roth conversion. However, this strategy is subject to the annual IRA contribution limit of $7,000 plus a $1,000 catch-up contribution for those over age 50.  The mega backdoor Roth, on the other hand, converts after-tax contributions to a qualified plan up to a limit of $69,000 in 2024 or $76,500 for those over age 50.

How Does a Mega Backdoor Roth Conversion Work?

Before taking advantage of the mega backdoor Roth opportunity, an individual must verify that their qualified plan allows for after-tax contributions and whether the plan allows in-service distributions. Here is how the mega backdoor Roth conversion works at a high level:

  1. The plan participant defers up to the annual limit set by Section 402(g) of the Internal Revenue Code ($23,000 in 2024 or $30,500 if over age 50).
    The deferrals can be either tax-deductible or Roth deferrals.
  2. The participant receives any employer matching and/or non-elective contributions.
  3. Participants then contribute the difference between the total of the employee deferrals plus employer contributions up to the Section 415 limit ($69,000 in 2024 or $76,500 for those over age 50) as an after-tax contribution to the plan.

The after-tax contribution is converted into a Roth in the same year the taxes are paid. The Roth conversion can occur within the 401(k) plan if the employer offers a Roth 401(k). If the employer offers in-service withdrawals, the after-tax contribution can be rolled out into a Roth IRA.

Before initiating a mega backdoor Roth conversion, we recommend confirming the process with your wealth manager or tax adviser and your plan administrator.

Please contact us if you have any questions about this topic or other wealth management subjects.

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Alyssa Dalbey is a Wealth Manager with Schultz Financial Group Inc.

Schultz Financial Group Inc. (SFG) is a wealth management firm located in Reno, NV. Our approach to wealth management is different from many other wealth managers, financial advisors, and financial planners. Our team of fee-only fiduciaries strives to help our clients build their wealth across four capitals: Financial Matters, Physical Well-being, Psychological Space, and Intellectual Engagement. We provide family office and wealth management services to clients located in Nevada, California, and other states. If you’d like more information, please check out our website or reach out to us via our contact page.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2021. It has been updated to reflect 2024 limits.

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