## optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

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red5
Posts: 776
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:42 pm

### optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

I was reading a thread about traditional vs roth investing concerning lower income families. I've always contributed to a Roth IRA except for a bit in an old TSP (deferred). I'm at the bottom of the 10% bracket and figured a Roth is best. Contributing to a traditional IRA nudges my refund a bit higher but not by an extraordinary amount .

But then I had a thought. I looked in the Wiki but did not find the information. My goal is to retire in 35 years and have \$60,000 in income every year in today's dollars. My assumption is I will receive \$12,000 in social security benefits. Thus I will need \$48,000 from my retirement accounts.

Would it be advantageous to be able to draw enough from a traditional IRA without triggering any taxes and then the rest from my Roth IRA? This way I could make some traditional contributions and get a bit of money in a refund and lower my taxable income. As an example, in 2012 dollars wouldn't I be able to take \$19,500 from a traditional IRA and not pay taxes (11,900 standard deduction, 3,800 x 2 = 7600 in exemptions for a husband and wife) thus making my taxable income equal \$0.00.

Then the rest of my 60,000 after SS and Traditional IRA would equal 60,000 - 12,000 - 19,500 = 28,500.

In this way I could plan on never paying taxes in traditional IRA monies. This would lead me to believe that optimally my ratio of TIRA to Roth monies should be

19500:28500 = 1:1.46

Of course lots of things can change in 35 years and the standard deduction and expemptions may rise at rates that would make them different in 2012 dollars when I do retire.

am I missing anything? I'm quite a novice, especially when it comes to taxes!

edit: The point is not to pinpoint an exact ratio of traditional to roth dollars. It would be merely to find a very rough and ballpark way of dividing up any tax deferred to taxed retirement dollars. Also, this ignores other factors such as moving into higher tax brackets which is expected at some point.

jdilla1107
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Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:31 pm

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

You definitely have the right idea. If a person ends up with only Roth Iras in retirement, they almost certainly have a sub optimal outcome. You want to be drawing something that is taxable to fill up those low brackets in retirement.

I would be sure to account for the probability of your income increasing in the future and traditional IRAs being more valuable to you in the future. (ie: staying with roths for now) In other words, you probably can achieve your ratio by doing 100% roths and then 100% traditional IRAS later when your income rises.

I think that your exact ratio calculation is overly precise because tax brackets and tax law can change. But you have the right line of thought.

bertilak
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Location: East of the Pecos, West of the Mississippi

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

red5 wrote:Would it be advantageous to be able to draw enough from a traditional IRA without triggering any taxes and then the rest from my Roth IRA?
You may not have that option. There is something called the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) that kicks in at about age 70.5. In my case this will be more than I need to take and will push me up a tax bracket. I have about 4 years to convert as much as I can of my tIRA to ROTH so as to minimize my future RMDs. I have a bit of headroom in my current bracket so I convert that much each year.
May neither drought nor rain nor blizzard disturb the joy juice in your gizzard. -- Squire Omar Barker, the Cowboy Poet

tainted-meat
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Location: Kentucky

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

At the 10% tax bracket Roth is a great option. With that said, one thing I do like about pre-tax dollars is the options it gives you with regards to conversions. If you end up with a lot of money in tIRAs or pre-tax 401ks, you can just retire earlier and start conversions earlier.

red5
Posts: 776
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:42 pm

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

jdilla:
Thank you for your thoughts. I am definitely going to continue making Roth contributions for the time being with perhaps a tiny traditional contribution here and there. The exact ratio is overly precise and I'm sure it would change over time as I near retirement. I'd use it more like a guideline.

bertilak:
I did play around with an RMD calculator a bit. I typed in my desired portfolio amount (traditional dollars) and it spit out an RMD that was lower than the standard deduction plus personal exemptions in 2012 dollars. Of course a lot can change in 35 years. I'm glad you brought that up because at first I hadn't thought of RMDs.

TAINTED-MEAT: Great point. That would be a nice issue to deal with in my 50s.

bdpb
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Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2007 3:14 pm

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

red5 wrote:I'm at the bottom of the 10% bracket ...

My goal is to retire in 35 years and have \$60,000 in income every year in today's dollars. My assumption is I will receive \$12,000 in social security benefits. Thus I will need \$48,000 from my retirement accounts.
It seems like you are planning on spending quite a bit more during retirement than you are spending now (based on income guess from your tax bracket). Most people spend less in retirement than during their working years. To reach this goal it seems you will have to save a very significant portion of your current income.

papito23
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Location: midwest

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

A lot could change in 35 years. Lock in whatever benefits you now (keeping in mind low-income benefits like Retirement Savings Credit and EITC) as long as it puts you "in the ballpark" decades hence.
A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. -Aldo Leopold's Golden Rule of Ecology

red5
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Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:42 pm

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

bdpb wrote:
It seems like you are planning on spending quite a bit more during retirement than you are spending now (based on income guess from your tax bracket). Most people spend less in retirement than during their working years. To reach this goal it seems you will have to save a very significant portion of your current income.
Yes, you are right, I do plan on spending quite a bit more during retirement. And yes, it does require saving a significant portion of current income. But it is what it is. In a couple years we'll be a two parent working family. Now one of us stays home with the kiddos.

and yes, Papito, "ballpark" is good enough for me.

Prokofiev
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Location: New Orleans

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

Red,

Better to think about \$ amounts than ratios for a TIRA. Your RMDs start around 4% at 70.5, so figure \$4k taxable per \$100k in TIRA. In addition, I would put in \$50-\$100k of medical/nursing/home care that you will probably be able to get out of a TIRA at 0% somewhere along the line. So for most folks, \$150-300k is the minimum TIRA to shoot for, even if you only receive a 10% tax break.

But with 35+ years to retirement, things will/should change along the way. I hope you don't plan on being in the 10% bracket for another 35 years. You need to increase your income. As such, you will benefit more by doing a TIRA in the future when you can get 25-28% of immediate tax benefit and continue with the Roth-only for the time being.

Good Luck, -P
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler - Einstein

MGBGTV8
Posts: 144
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:40 pm

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

Maybe the right way to think about this is to build up a Roth IRA to supplement withdrawals for big, or unplanned expenses, such as replacing a car or house upgrades when the withdrawal would put you above the next tax bracket. I think that you may consider more weight toward the traditional IRA, but we ARE planning many years in the future, with many opportunities for political risk to bite us!

crowd79
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Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:37 pm

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

A tIRA is a bigger benefit to those in lower income bracket as an initial contribution. For example, you made \$22k last year (AGI). Contribute \$5k to a tIRA and get below the \$17,250 threshold for a \$1,000 tax credit from uncle sam. With a Roth, you cant get AGI lower. Take the deduction with a tIRA contribution this year and repay the deduction taxes on Roth conversion the following year, but you still keep the potential \$1k Savers Credit....

red5
Posts: 776
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:42 pm

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

Prokofiev wrote:Red,

Better to think about \$ amounts than ratios for a TIRA. Your RMDs start around 4% at 70.5, so figure \$4k taxable per \$100k in TIRA. In addition, I would put in \$50-\$100k of medical/nursing/home care that you will probably be able to get out of a TIRA at 0% somewhere along the line. So for most folks, \$150-300k is the minimum TIRA to shoot for, even if you only receive a 10% tax break.

But with 35+ years to retirement, things will/should change along the way. I hope you don't plan on being in the 10% bracket for another 35 years. You need to increase your income. As such, you will benefit more by doing a TIRA in the future when you can get 25-28% of immediate tax benefit and continue with the Roth-only for the time being.

Good Luck, -P
That is another good point and an idea that had briefly passed through my mind in the last couple days. I thought of it like this though: very roughly speaking I *may* have about 15,000 to 20,000 worth of deduction / expemptions in 2013 dollars that I could use the tIRA for. This (say 17,500) multiplied by 25 equals \$437,500. Add in the 50-100k of medical expenses, which I hadn't thought of, and a good value of my tIRA could be (again, very roughly) \$500,000 in 2013 dollars.
MGBGTV8 wrote: but we ARE planning many years in the future, with many opportunities for political risk to bite us!
Yes I am very very aware. Mostly, I just like to play with numbers and this exercise helps satisfy that. This at least gives me some kind of idea that there is a way to optimally use a tIRA while keeping taxes at or very near \$0.00. Of course if life changes and I jump up tax brackets this will all change.

MN Finance
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Joined: Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:46 am

### Re: optimal tIRA to Roth ratio of dollars

I would still concentrate on the Roth, under the possibly faulty assumption, that paying tax at 10% is as good as it will be. As mentioned, you can always do conversions later, if still allowed, to realize income