Expat FAQ

Do you have a general question on expatriation? FAQs give you answers to the most frequent questions: At Work.

How do I convert my 401k plan into an IRA?

An IRA is a retirement investing tool that can be either an Individual Retirement Account or an Individual Retirement Annuity. There are several types of IRAs: Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, and SEP IRAs.

Traditional and Roth IRAs are established by individual taxpayers, who are allowed to contribute 100% of compensation (Self-employment income for Sole proprietors and partners) up to a specified maximum dollar amount. Contributions to the Traditional IRA may be tax-deductible depending on the taxpayer's income, tax-filing status, and coverage by an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Roth IRA contributions are not tax-deductible.

A 401(k) plan is a qualified plan established by employers to which eligible employees may make salary deferral (salary reduction) contributions on a post and/or pre-tax basis. Employers may make matching or non-elective contributions to the plan on behalf of eligible employees and may also add a profit sharing feature to the plan. Earnings accrue on a tax-deferred basis.

If you want to convert your 401K plan into an IRA (or Roth IRA) you should convert as a rollover. You can read publication 590 of the IRS website for more information on conversion.

You can rollover your 401(k) into your IRA and turn it into a Roth, depending on your age and income tax bracket. As long as it is a rollover, you should be ok in term of penalties. If you find an international company, future transfers abroad would be easier.

If you are still in the US, you should get some financial advice beforehand.

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