What You Need To Know To Avoid Costly Mistakes
Andy Smith is a Certified Financial Planner , licensed realtor and educator with over 35 years of diverse financial management experience. He is an expert on personal finance, corporate finance and real estate and has assisted thousands of clients in meeting their financial goals over his career.
In an ideal world, everybody would leave their 401 funds alone until they need the money for retirement. That might mean rolling your account over to an Individual Retirement Account , but it also means not cashing out the funds prior to reaching retirement age, to allow the money to grow to its maximum potential amount. In investing, time truly is your best asset. At some point though, you will begin taking distributions, and here’s what you need to know.
The best way to take money out of your 401 plan depends on three things:
It’s Sometimes Possible To Get A Tax Deduction But That May Not Be Worth It
The government allows you to claim a tax deduction if your 401 or other retirement plan has lost value, but there are rules you must follow. First, you must have basis. In this case, basis refers to nondeductible contributions you’ve made. Deductible contributions — those that reduce your taxable income for the year — do not count. You haven’t paid any taxes on that money so far, so the government is not going to give you a tax deduction on the amount you lost.
You also must close all retirement accounts of the same type in order to calculate the loss. So if you’re trying to claim a loss on your 401, you must close all of your 401s. Then you total your nondeductible contributions and the current value of the accounts, and you can write off the difference if the current value of the accounts is lower.
But this is inconvenient for two reasons. First, if you withdraw money from your 401 before age 59 1/2, you pay a 10% early-withdrawal penalty. This may negate some of the benefit you get from writing off the loss. Second, if you take the money out of your 401, you’re giving up the tax advantages it offers and your money will no longer grow as quickly unless you invest it in something else.
For these reasons, it’s not wise to claim a tax deduction on a 401 loss unless you’re older than 59 1/2 and plan to use the money to cover your retirement expenses in the near future anyway. Otherwise, try one of the suggestions above.
Cares Act Lifts Restrictions On 401 Loans
The CARES Act offers relief by loosening restrictions on 401 loans and distributions by:
- Penalty-free distributions allowed Qualified participants can take out up to $100,000 without paying the 10% excise tax for early withdrawal. The distribution is not taxed if repaid within three years.
- Bigger plan loans allowed In the past, plan participants could take out up to 50% of their account balances . Now, qualified participants can take out 100% of their balances . There is no 10% early withdrawal penalty for participants who are under 59.5 years of age. Loan repayment can be suspended until December 31, 2020. Interest continues to accrue, but participants can take up to five years to pay off their loans.
- No required minimum distributions RMDs for those age 72 or over can be waived for the remainder of 2020 to avoid selling at undervalued prices.
- New parents can take money out Americans who just had a baby or adopted a child can take up to $5,000 from a 401 or IRA without the typical 10% penalty. Feasibly, if they have separate retirement accounts, a couple could take up to $10,000 in total. New parents may opt to repay, but the borrowed cash does not have strict repayment protocols in place.
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How To Cash Out A 401 After Quitting
You may follow this type of action plan for your 401 when you quit your job:
If your new employer offers a 401 plan, check your eligibility and enroll yourself.
Once enrolled, get the funds and investments in your old account directly transferred to your new account. You can opt for a direct administrator-to-administrator transfer through simple documentation to avoid potential taxes and penalties.
Instead of direct transfer, you can also cash out your old account and deposit the proceeds in your new account within 60 days of cashing out. That way, you dont have to pay income tax on the amount of the withdrawal .
You must start taking 401 distributions after you turn 70 ½ years old and you are not working anymore. However, unlike traditional plans, in a new retirement plan with your current employer, you cannot be forced to take the required minimum distributions even after you reach the age of 70 ½.
If your new employer does not have a 401 plan or you do not like the plan your new employer has, you may roll over your old 401 account to an IRA. The rollover process is like the process of rolling over to a new account. You can either get it done directly through your plan administrator or take out the proceedings and deposit them in your IRA within 60 days.
Cashing Out A : What A 401 Early Withdrawal Really Costs
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Contributing to a 401 can be a Hotel California kind of experience: Its easy to get your money in, but its hard to get your money out. That is, unless youre at least 59½ years old thats when the door swings wide open for a 401 withdrawal. But try cashing out a 401 with an early withdrawal before that magical age and you could pay a steep price if you dont proceed with caution.
Borrowing From A 401 Should Be A Last Resort
Economists recommend tapping a 401 as a last resort. Why?
- A 10% penalty applies if the money is withdrawn early for any reason aside from an approved hardship.
- Consumers have to pull out a larger percentage of assets, as they are worth less during a downturn.
- There will be no compounding during the withdrawal period
- The amounts saved during the first 10 years of investing can account for 50% of the balance by age 65.
- Income taxes will still be owed on withdrawals from traditional 401 deferrals and employer matching.
The ideal scenario would be to tap emergency cash savings. Americans are advised to keep at least three to six months of expenses in a cash savings account for emergencies. Homeowners may consider taking a low-interest line of credit. Personal loans from a local credit union can help consolidate debt or make a big purchase, though the interest rate can be 10% or higher.
Weve only just skimmed the surface of the questions you may face here. Call us for more personalized financial advice about starting, changing, or updating your 401 plan. Ubiquity specializes in working with small businesses.
Our Take: When Can You Withdraw From Your 401k Or Ira Penalty
There are a number of ways you can withdraw from your 401k or IRA penalty-free. Still, we recommend not touching your retirement savings until you are actually retired. Compounding is a huge help when it comes to maximizing your retirement savings and extending the life of your portfolio. You lose out on that when you take early distributions. To see how much compounding can affect your 401k account balance, check out our article on the average 401k balance by age.
We understand that its always possible for unforeseen circumstances to arise before you reach retirement. Being aware of the exceptions allows you to make informed decisions and possibly avoid paying extra fees and taxes.
To take control of your finances, a good place to start is by stepping back, getting organized, and looking at your money holistically. Personal Capitals free financial dashboard will allow you to:
The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.
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Roth 401 Or Roth Ira Conversion
Since you can withdraw from your Roth account without a penalty at any time, you might consider converting your Traditional 401 to a Roth account. You might even have the option to rollover to a Roth IRA, but there are some differences between an IRA and 401. You should check with your plan administrator to make sure this is allowed. Also note that you will be required to pay income taxes when you make the conversion. Since you contribute to a traditional plan with pre-tax dollars and contributions to a Roth plan are with after-tax dollars, you will have to go ahead and pay taxes on those dollars when you perform the conversion. Make sure you have enough cash on hand to cover those taxes. Once the conversion is complete, you will be free to make a withdrawal from your Roth account without any associated penalties.
What Hardship Withdrawals Will Cost You
Hardship withdrawals hurt you in the long run when it comes to saving for retirement. You’re removing money you’ve set aside for your post-pay-check years and losing the opportunity to use it then, and to have it continue to appreciate in the meantime. You’ll also be liable for paying income tax on the amount of the withdrawaland at your current rate, which may well be higher than you’d have paid if the funds were withdrawn in retirement.
If you are younger than 59½, it’s also very likely you’ll be charged at 10% penalty on the amount you withdraw.
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How To Pull Your Money Out Of An Ira Or 401 Early And Penalty
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Investing money into your IRA or 401 is a great way to build wealth and save for retirement. Money goes in pre-tax while earnings grow tax-deferred.
How To Withdraw 401k Money
As with any decision involving taxes, consult with your tax professional on considerations and impacts to your specific situation. An Edward Jones financial advisor can partner with them to provide additional financial information that can help in the decision-making process. When considering withdrawing money from your 401 plan, you can withdraw in a lump sum, roll it over or purchase an annuity. Your financial advisor or 401 plan administrator can help you with this.
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Dividing Your 401 Assets
If you divorce, your former spouse may be entitled to some of the assets in your 401 account or to a portion of the actual account. That depends on where you live, as the laws governing marital property differ from state to state.
In community property states, you and your former spouse generally divide the value of your accounts equally. In the other states, assets are typically divided equitably rather than equally. That means that the division of your assets might not necessarily be a 50/50 split. In some cases, the partner who has the larger income will receive a larger share.
For your former spouse to get a share of your 401, his or her attorney will ask the court to issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order . It instructs your plan administrator to create two subaccounts, one that you control and the other that your former spouse controls. In effect, that makes you both participants in the plan. Though your spouse cant make additional contributions, he or she may be able to change the way the assets are allocated.
Your plan administrator has 18 months to rule on the validity of the QDRO, and your spouses attorney may ask that you not be allowed to borrow from your plan, withdraw the assets or roll them into an IRA before that ruling is final. Once the division is final, your former spouse may choose to take the money in cash, roll it into an IRA or leave the assets in the plan.
How To Cash Out A 401 From A Former Employer
Cashing out a 401k from a former employer is not a difficult task. In most cases, you contact the plan administrator for the appropriate paper work, fill it out, send it to the financial institution that manages the 401k, and wait for the check to come in the mail or for the electronic transfer.
In order to cash out a 401 from a former employer, you will likely have to contact the plan administrator at your former place of employment and request access to the paperwork needed to withdraw your funds.
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Withdrawals After Age 72
Many people continue to work well past age 59 1/2. They delay their 401 withdrawals, allowing the assets to continue to grow tax-deferred. But the IRS requires that you begin to take withdrawals known as “required minimum distributions” by age 72.
Those who are owners of 5% or more of a business can defer taking their RMDs while they’re still working, but the plan must have made this election. This only applies to the 401 of your current employer. RMDs for all other retirement accounts still must be taken.
What If You Only Need The Money Short Term
Although there are other qualifying exceptions to withdraw IRA or 401k assets penalty-free, those listed above are the major ones. But suppose youre not interested in paying any taxes at all. You can still use your 401k to borrow money via a loan. The interest goes to you, the loan isnt taxable, and it wouldnt show up on your credit report. Heres how it works.
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Withdrawals After Age 59 1/2
Age 59 1/2 is the magic number when it comes to avoiding the penalties associated with early 401 withdrawals. You can take penalty-free withdrawals from 401 assets that have been rolled over into a traditional IRA when you’ve reached this age. You can also take a penalty-free withdrawal if your funds are still in the 401 plan, and you’ve retired.
You can take a withdrawal penalty-free if you’re still working after you reach age 59 1/2, but the rules change a bit. Check with the plan administrator about its specific rules if you’re still working at the company with which you have your 401 assets.
Your plan might offer an “in-service” withdrawal that allows you to access your 401 assets penalty-free, but not all plans offer this option. And remember, the withdrawal will still be subject to income taxes, even if it’s not penalized.
What Is A Withdrawal Buckets Strategy
With the buckets strategy, you withdraw assets from three buckets, or separate types of accounts holding your assets.
Under this strategy, the first bucket holds some percentage of your savings in cash: often three-to-five years of living expenses. The second holds mostly fixed income securities. The third bucket contains your remaining investments in equities. As you use the cash from the first bucket, you replenish it with earnings from the second and third buckets.
Potential advantages: This approach allows your savings to continue to grow over time. Through constant review of your funding, you also benefit from a sense of control over your assets.
Potential disadvantages: This approach is more time-consuming.
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How To Make An Early Withdrawal From A 401
When you have determined your eligibility and the type of withdrawal you want to make, you will need to fill out the necessary paperwork and provide the requested documents. The paperwork and documents will vary depending on your employer and the reason for the withdrawal, but when all the paperwork has been submitted, you will receive a check for the requested funds, hopefully without having to pay the 10% penalty.