Contribute to a Roth 401k WHILE Working in a High Tax State?

How and Why?

By Josh

I’ve attached a quick / short analysis that pits a Roth retirement approach versus a pre-tax 401 approach. I’m a bit surprised at the outcome.

Here are the assumptions.

1. Married employee in both cases.
2. An employee who is 55 years old invests $25,000 into the company’s retirement account.
a. $19,000 limit, plus
b. $6,000 over 50 catch-up
3. One employee pays the taxes up-front and invests the net of $16,088 into a Roth.
4. Another employee avoids / defers the taxes and invests the entire $25,000 into a 401.
5. Both investments earn the same return.
6. After 10 years the 401 will be converted over to a Roth.
c. This conversion signals the retirement of the individual in a non-income tax state which is one difference between the two approaches. Their working career was in an income taxed state while they both retire in a non-taxed state.
7. The analysis is taxing the 401 at the same tax-rate level minus any state income tax. If you execute your conversions at a lower tax rate, say 12% the results could even be more divergent.(emphasis mine).

d. Also, the reason I’ve taxed the entire Roth amount at 22% Federal is because that is the bracket the employee’s income tops out at. For the retiree when any Roth conversions is likely to take place the taxes would be on a stepped approach topping out at possible 12%.


What am I missing here? If this analysis is correct it seems advantageous to invest in the 401 and convert to a Roth when you are either in a lower tax bracket, in a non-income tax state or both.



Conclusion: Your thoughts are appreciated.


Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™


5 Responses

  1. 401-K

    The fact that the contribution limit for a 401(k) is more than three times greater than for an IRA makes it much easier to invest enough money to build the nest egg you need while earning generous tax breaks. A $19,500 contribution, for example, could save you as much as $4,290 on your taxes in total if you’re in the 22% tax bracket while the maximum tax savings you’d get for a $6,000 IRA contribution in the same bracket is $1,320. The government is providing you a much larger subsidy with a 401(k).



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: