According to a press release, of those surveyed who have
a retirement savings account that could be converted to a Roth IRA, 44% said
they are still undecided on the matter, although 85% of this group is at least
10 years away from retirement, and 47% expect their income to be over $100,000
this year. The top reason for their indecisiveness, cited by 45% of
respondents, is that they want to know more about Roth IRA conversions before
making a decision.
Almost a third of respondents (30%) indicated they want
to speak to a professional before making a decision, and of them, 76% want to
talk to their tax adviser first.
An October survey for the First Command Financial
Behaviors Index found 84% of middle-class consumers are not even aware that a
new Roth conversion law goes into effect on January 1, lifting the $100,000
income limit and allowing investors to pay the resulting tax bill over a
two-year period (see Poll Finds Yawns over Roth Conversion Law Change). Even after being informed of
the pending law change, only 6% of survey respondents indicated they plan to
pursue a Roth IRA conversion.
TD AMERITRADE pointed out there are many indefinite
variables – like future tax rates and the state of the economy – to think about
before converting to a Roth IRA. Eighty-six percent of survey respondents think
it is at least somewhat likely that their income tax rate could be higher when
they reach retirement age, and 36% believe it is at least somewhat likely that
the government could take steps to reduce the national debt by changing the
tax-deferred status of retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans and IRA
For a discussion of the tax and other considerations for using a Roth IRA, see Feature:The 800 lb. Tax Gorilla.