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8 Things to Know Before the October 16 Recharacterization Deadline

By Sarah Brenner, JD
IRA Analyst
Follow Us on Twitter: @theslottreport
 

Did you convert your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA in 2016 and now you are reconsidering that move? Did you make a 2016 traditional IRA contribution and later discover the contribution was not deductible? Did you contribute to a Roth IRA, not knowing that your income was above the limits for eligibility? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, there is a deadline rapidly approaching that you will want to know about. That is the October 16, 2017 deadline for recharacterizing 2016 conversions and IRA contributions. Here are 8 things you need to know about recharacterization:

1. A recharacterization is a tax-free transfer of funds from one kind of IRA to another.

2. The deadline for recharacterizing a 2016 tax year contribution or conversion is October 16, 2017 for taxpayers who timely file their 2016 federal income tax returns. This is true even if you do not have an extension.

3. Recharacterization allows you to undo a conversion and move the funds back to a traditional IRA. A recharacterization is a dollar amount. You can choose to recharacterize the whole conversion amount or just a part of it.

4. You can also recharacterize a tax-year traditional IRA contribution from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA or vice versa.

5. If you have decided that recharacterization is a good move for you, you will need to contact your IRA or Roth IRA custodian. You will need to provide the custodian with some information to conduct the transaction such as the amount you would like to recharacterize and the date of the contribution or conversion. Most custodians can provide you with a form to collect all the necessary information to complete a recharacterization.

6. Your IRA or Roth IRA custodian will directly move the funds you choose to recharacterize, along with the earnings or loss attributable to them, from the first IRA to the second IRA. This is a tax-free transaction, but both IRAs report the transactions to you and the IRS. You will receive a 2017 Form 1099-R from the first IRA and a 2017 Form 5498 from the second IRA.

7. There are restrictions on reconverting after a recharacterization. You may not reconvert the same funds until the beginning of the next taxable year following the year of the conversion, or if later, more than 30 days from the date of the recharacterization.

8. Deciding whether recharacterization is the right move for you can be complicated. If you are considering this strategy, consult with an advisor who is an expert in this area.

 

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