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Roth IRA strategies for high-income earners

Find out how you can still take advantage of a Roth IRA — even if you earn too much to directly contribute to one.

Roth IRAs are powerful retirement savings accounts that allow tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals in retirement, provided certain conditions are met. However, if you earn above a certain dollar amount, you aren’t eligible to directly contribute to one.

Fortunately, high-income households can still access the tax benefits of Roth contributions by taking advantage of alternate strategies. Reach out to your Ameriprise financial advisor for guidance on the appropriate strategy for your situation.

In this article:

  1. Income limits for Roth IRAs
  2. Roth IRA strategies for high-income households
    1. Backdoor Roth IRA
    2. Mega backdoor Roth IRA
    3. Roth IRA conversion
    4. Roth 401(k)
  3. Question to ask an Ameriprise financial advisor

Income limits for Roth IRAs

To directly contribute to a Roth IRA, your income must fall below thresholds set annually by the IRS. For 2024, the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) phaseout ranges for Roth IRA direct contributions are:

  • $146,000 to $161,000 for individuals filing as single or head of household 
  • $230,000 to $240,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • $0 to $10,000 for married individuals filing separately 

If your income is above these thresholds, it’s worth considering the following strategies.

Roth IRA strategies for high-income households

Roth IRAs offer many benefits, such as the potential for tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals that are not subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs). Here are a few ways high-income earners can leverage this tax-advantaged account:

1. Backdoor Roth IRA

What it is: A backdoor Roth IRA — also known as an after-tax Roth conversion — is a strategy in which you make post-tax contributions to a new or existing traditional IRA (up to $7,000, or $8,000 for people 50 and older in 2024) and then simply convert those funds to a Roth IRA.

How it works: Because traditional IRAs do not have any income restrictions on after-tax contributions, a backdoor Roth IRA allows high earners to access Roth IRAs through a conversion strategy. If the only assets in any of your traditional IRAs are after-tax contributions, there is no taxable event with a backdoor Roth IRA because your after-tax contributions are not subject to income tax when converted to a Roth IRA. If you have pre-tax assets in any of your traditional IRAs, connect with your tax professional as there are special tax rules that apply to a Roth conversion from an IRA.

Advice spotlight

If you earn too much to directly contribute to a Roth IRA, a backdoor Roth is a comparable strategy to achieve the same goal.

If you decide this strategy is appropriate for you, your Ameriprise financial advisor will help facilitate this movement of assets so you can benefit from the tax advantages of a Roth IRA.

2. Mega backdoor Roth IRA

What it is: A mega backdoor Roth IRA — also known as a 401(k) after-tax Roth IRA conversion — is a strategy in which you convert after-tax contributions from your 401(k) plan to a Roth IRA. Not all 401(k) plans offer this capability, but if yours does, it presents a unique opportunity. The 401(k) limit on total employer and employee contributions for 2024 is $69,000 ($76,500 for age 50 and older). This far exceeds the traditional IRA limit of $7,000 or $8,000 for those 50+ years old.

How it works: After you reach the 401(k) elective deferral maximum of $23,000 for 2024 ($30,500 for age 50 and older) and your employer adds matching funds, you may be able to add post-tax funds for a total of up to $69,000 ($76,500 for age 50 and older). You then roll over post-tax funds to a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k). If the related pre-tax amounts are rolled to a traditional IRA, there are no tax consequences on the Roth IRA rollover.

3. Pre-tax Roth IRA conversion

What it is: A Roth IRA conversion is a strategy in which you convert deductible contributions from a traditional IRA or pre-tax assets from a 401(k) plan to Roth IRA. Typically, Roth IRA conversions are ideal for those who are in a lower tax bracket than what they expect to be in their retirement years, whether that’s due to circumstances like a career change or sabbatical.

How it works: Because contributions to a Roth IRA must be post-tax, you have to pay taxes on the converted assets during the same calendar year you made the conversion. However, future earnings on your money will be tax-free and withdrawals will be tax-free, too, provided you’ve met certain conditions.




Roth IRA conversion calculator

Use this calculator to see how converting your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA could affect your net worth at retirement.

4. Roth 401(k)

What it is: A Roth 401(k) is a retirement savings account that may be offered as part of an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan. It allows you to make after-tax contributions that have tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals that are not subject to RMD requirements.

How it works: A Roth 401(k) is similar to a Roth IRA, but the key differentiator is that it’s tied to your employer and its contributions limits. While there are no income limits to be able to contribute, you are subject to IRS limitation on the amount you can contribute. The maximum you can contribute to a Roth 401(k) is $23,000 in 2024 ($30,500 for investors age 50 and older), but that ceiling includes pre-tax contributions to a 401(k) as well.

Reap the benefits of a Roth IRA

Even if you exceed the income thresholds for a Roth IRA, your Ameriprise financial advisor can help you identify how you can benefit from such a tax-advantaged account. 

Which Roth IRA strategy in this article makes sense for my financial situation? How may Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) contributions benefit my retirement portfolio? Under what scenarios would it make sense to consider a pre-tax Roth conversion?

When you’re ready to reach out to an Ameriprise financial advisor for a complimentary consultation, consider bringing these questions to your meeting.

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At Ameriprise, the financial advice we give each of our clients is personalized, based on your goals and no one else's. 

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Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.

These materials are intended to be educational in nature and do not establish a fiduciary relationship. Neither Ameriprise Financial nor its advisors make IRA rollover or transfer recommendations or act as a fiduciary in discussing your IRA rollover or transfer options. Further, the information contained in this document should not be construed as an investment opinion or recommendation by Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC to buy or sell securities or take a specific course of action with respect to your retirement assets.


Be sure you understand the potential benefits and risks of an IRA rollover or transfer before implementing. As with any decision that has tax implications, you should consult with your tax adviser prior to implementing an IRA rollover or transfer. 


Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and its affiliates do not offer tax or legal advice. Consumers should consult with their tax advisor or attorney regarding their specific situation.


The initial consultation provides an overview of financial planning concepts.  You will not receive written analysis and/or recommendations.


A Roth IRA is tax free as long as investors leave the money in the account for at least 5 years and are 59 1/2 or older when they take distributions or meet another qualifying event, such as death, disability or purchase of a first home.


Investment products are not insured by the FDIC, NCUA or any federal agency, are not deposits or obligations of, or guaranteed by any financial institution, and involve investment risks including possible loss of principal and fluctuation in value.


Securities offered by Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. Member FINRA and SIPC.

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