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Investing Specialists

Do Tax Rates Go Up or Down in Retirement?

Retired readers share tax-minimization techniques and debate the pros and cons of IRA conversions.

The decision about whether to opt for Roth tax treatment of your retirement assets--where you pay taxes upfront in exchange for tax-free withdrawals later on--requires you to make a judgment about whether your taxes will be higher in retirement than they were while you were working.

That's a lot harder than it sounds, as my colleague Adam Zoll explored in this article. Not only does itinvolve divining what tax rates are apt to be on a macroeconomic level by the time you retire, but you also need to bear your own personal situation in mind. For lower earners who are early in their careers, it's likely that their income tax brackets will be higher in the future than they are today, making Roth contributions and conversions a good bet. For older savers, that might not be the case.