My daughter is 47 years old. She wants to convert funds from her traditional IRA to fund her Roth IRA each year. Even though she is not 59 ½, can she move these funds without the 10% penalty since the funds are moving from one IRA to another?

A conversion from an IRA to a Roth IRA is taxable, but not subject to the 10% early distribution penalty.

One year my income unexpectedly jumped up above the level allowed for a tax-deductible IRA, but I didn’t realize I wasn't eligible until months after I made my contribution. Come April when I did my taxes I had this contribution re-characterized as a Roth IRA and paid taxes on it. My question is this: Can the money I re-characterized be included as the portion of my Roth IRA, which can be taken out before 59 1/2 without penalty? 

Yes. Your recharacterized IRA contribution is treated as a Roth IRA contribution that can be withdrawn tax-and-penalty free at any time.

I made three conversions in 2010. I know that I will be able to make qualified withdrawals on January 2, 2015. I also made a conversion on 1/3/2012. Must this conversion be governed by its own 5-year rule, meaning, qualified withdrawals will begin on 1/3/2017?

Assuming you are now age 59 ½ or older, there is no separate 5-year clock for purposes of the 10% penalty on the 2012 conversion because that penalty doesn’t apply any longer. But, if you’re under age 59 ½, the 2012 has its own separate 5-year clock with respect to the 10% penalty. With respect to a qualified withdrawal of interest, there is only one 5-year clock that expires on 1-1-15. All of your future Roth IRA withdrawals will be qualified (tax-free) from then on. 

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