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Calculation Help on the Internet

November 15, 1998|KATHY M. KRISTOF

Hundreds of sites on the Web aim to educate consumers about Roth IRAs, and dozens have calculators designed to help you figure out whether you are better off converting to a Roth or leaving your traditional IRA alone.

All of the calculators have some shortcomings, however. For one thing, they don't take into account whether you'll lose income-contingent deductions or credits as the result of boosting your taxable income through a conversion.

Many of them also simply expect you to know what tax bracket you're in and don't attempt to adjust your bracket for the additional conversion income. In fact, only a few of the calculator programs will inform you that you are ineligible.

That said, here are a few of the sites that have better calculators and information:

* Calvert Group's calculator includes a handy list of factors to think about before you convert. Find it at http://www.calvertgroup.com/calc/convert-to-roth.asp.

* Lutheran Brotherhood's calculator includes a chart so you can track the differences between traditional and Roth IRAs at various ages. Find it at http://www.luthbro.com/investing/roth/T01-Convcalc.html.

* The Strong Funds calculator includes a helpful chart of 1998 federal income tax rates. Find it at http://www.strongfunds.com/strong/Retirement98/ind/calc/rollcalc.htm.

* Brentmark Software's Roth IRA site at http://www.rothira.com reviews the numerous Roth IRA sites and provides links to dozens.

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