Factor In Whenand Howyou Have To Pay It Back
Youre borrowing your own money, but you do have to pay it back on time. If you dont, the loan is considered a taxable distribution and youll pay ordinary income taxes on it. If youre under 59½, youll also be hit with a 10 percent penalty. Put that in real dollars: If youre 55, in the 25 percent tax bracket, and you default on a $20,000 loan, it could potentially cost you $5,000 in taxes and $2,000 in penalties. Thats a pretty hefty price to pay for the use of your own money!
Before borrowing, figure out if you can comfortably pay back the loan. The maximum term of a 401 loan is five years unless youre borrowing to buy a home, in which case it can be longer. Some employers allow you to repay faster, with no prepayment penalty. In any case, the repayment schedule is usually determined by your plan. Often, paymentswith interestare automatically deducted from your paychecks. At the very least, you must make payments quarterly. So ask yourself: If youre short on cash now, where will you find the cash to repay the loan?
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.
Move Your Money To Your New Employer’s Plan
If you have a new employer offering a retirement plan, you may be able to transfer your savings into it.
- Your savings stay invested with the same tax advantages
- You might be able to roll in savings from other retirement plans
- You can make ongoing contributions.
- The investment options depend on what the plan offers.
- You may be able to take out a plan loan, or withdraw money before retirement under certain circumstances
Recommended Reading: How Do I Offer 401k To My Employees
What If I Dont Repay
You dont necessarily have to repay 401 loans, but youll probably owe taxes and penalties if you dont. When its been decided that youre going to default on the loan , your loan becomes a distribution. It goes from being a temporary thing to a permanent thing you cant put the money back in the plan . If the money was pre-tax money, youll owe income tax on everything that has not been repaid, and you will likely also owe a 10 percent penalty on that amount. Assuming you owe $10,000 and your tax rate is 20 percent, youd owe $2,000 of income tax plus an additional $1,000 of penalty tax.
Loan offset: You may be able to pay off a loan by depositing funds in an IRA or another retirement account. To do so, you must make the rollover contribution before your tax filing deadline plus extensions . To use this strategy, you typically must have ended employment, or your employer may have terminated the 401 plan before you could repay the loan. Again, verify everything with your CPA before taking action.
In addition to taxes and returns, there are other reasons to avoid taking money out of a 401 plan. Especially if youre going to pay off debt, you give up some important benefits of your 401 plan when you take money out of it.
Fill Out A Request Form
You must typically fill out a request form and send it to the administrator by mail or delivery service. You can deliver the form in person if you live near an office of the administrator. If you have online access to your account, you may be able to make your request online. Mail or delivery service may add one to three days to the payout timeline, depending on what service you choose.
Recommended Reading: Can You Have Your Own 401k
Factors That Can Delay The Disbursement Process
Although it still depends on the institution that manages the 401, there can be delays in the process that are outside of your control and even the planâs administratorâs control.
If youâre required to pay the 10% penalty tax, this may require an additional step in processing. However, if youâre exempt from the 10% penalty through any of the exemptions the IRS outlines, this can add some significant time. Your 401 administrator may have to submit additional documentation and proof that your disbursement meets the criteria for waiving the 10% penalty.
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.
Read Also: How To Invest With Your 401k
Can I Use My 401 To Buy A House
Using your 401 to make a downpayment on a house is generally allowed.
There are even some benefits:401 loans arent taxed, they dont affect your credit score,and they havelow interest rates.
However, borrowing from your401 can do severe and lasting damage to your retirementsavings. Thats why financial advisors recommend borrowers tap their 401 fundsonly as a last resort.
Before you decide to use your 401 to buy a house, consider the no- and low-down-payment mortgages available today.
Many people can buy a house withas little as 3% or even 0% down so theres a good chance you dont need totap your retirement savings to make a down payment.
Alternatives To Using Your 401 To Buy A House
Many homebuyers assume they need a 20%down payment, which can make it seem nearly impossible to save enough cash tobuy a house.
But home buyers no longer need 20%down.
In fact, theres a long list of low- and no-down payment home loans that can lower the barrier to homeownership.
Some of the most popular low-downpayment mortgages are:
- FHAloans allow as little as 3.5% down andonly require a 580 credit score
- Conventional97 loans start at 3% down and require a 620+credit score
- VAloans available to veterans and servicemembers with 0% down
- USDAloans can be used in certain rural areaswith 0% down
- HomeReady and Home Possible loans only require 3% down and have flexible requirementsfor first time home buyers who have little cash
But what if you dont have a 3%down payment? After all, 3% of $300,000 is $9,000 thats still a lot ofmoney.
If you need help making your downpayment, there are other places to turn before your 401. For example:
Most of these programs are specifically designed for first-time, lower-income, or lower-credit home buyers. So if youre having trouble saving for a down payment for any of these reasons, theres a good chance you could qualify.
Also Check: How Much Can I Convert From 401k To Roth Ira
What Are The Penalty
The IRS permits withdrawals without a penalty for certain specific uses, including to cover college tuition and to pay the down payment on a first home. It terms these “exceptions,” but they also are exemptions from the penalty it imposes on most early withdrawals.
It also allows hardship withdrawals to cover an immediate and pressing need.
There is currently one more permissible hardship withdrawal, and that is for costs directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You’ll still owe regular income taxes on the money withdrawn but you won’t get slapped with the 10% early withdrawal penalty.
Receiving Your Disbursement Check By Mail
Once your disbursement is approved and processed, you have two options in how to receive the funds youâre taking out. You can opt for an automatic ACH into your bank account, or you can have the 401 administrator send you a physical check.
If you chose to receive a check, there might be an additional period for them to draw up the check and prepare it to be sent to you.
Then, youâll need to wait the standard amount of time it takes for the postal service to get the check to you.
In total, from the time you submitted your disbursement request to receive your check in the mail, it may take two to four weeksâplus the additional time it takes for the check to be deposited into your bank account.
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So Whats Right For You
Use this chart to help see which options match your wants and needs.
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How To Use A 401 Loan To Buy A House
A 401 loan is the preferredmethod if you need to cash out some of your 401 retirementfunds tobuy a house. Thats because theres a much lower cost associated with a 401loan comparedto a 401 withdrawal.
You should also know:
- A 401 loan is usually not counted in your debt-to-income ratio, so it wont hurt your chances of mortgage qualifying
- 401 loans are not reported to credit bureaus, so applying for one wont harm your credit score
Can I use my 401k to buy a house without penalty?
Unlike a 401 withdrawal, a401 loan is not subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty from the IRS. Andthe money you receive will not be taxed as income.
The rules for using a 401 loanto buy a house are as follows:
- Your employer must allow 401loans as part of its retirement plan
- The maximum loan amount is 50% ofyour 401svested balance or $50,000, whichever is less
- The loan must be paid back withinterest , on a schedule agreed to by youand your 401 provider
- Typically,you cannot make 401 contributions while you have an outstanding 401 loan
401 loans typically need to bepaid back over five years.
However, when the money is used topurchase a home, youre usually allowed to pay it back over a longer period oftime. Rules vary by 401 company, so check with yours to learn more.
Drawbacks to 401 loans for home buying
While youre paying back the 401 loan, you usually cant make new contributions to your retirement account. And that means your employer wont be matching contributions, either.
Recommended Reading: How To Cash Out Nationwide 401k
Weighing Pros And Cons
Before you determine whether to borrow from your 401 account, consider the following advantages and drawbacks to this decision.
On the plus side:
- You usually dont have to explain why you need the money or how you intend to spend it.
- You may qualify for a lower interest rate than you would at a bank or other lender, especially if you have a low credit score.
- The interest you repay is paid back into your account.
- Since youre borrowing rather than withdrawing money, no income tax or potential early withdrawal penalty is due.
On the negative side:
- The money you withdraw will not grow if it isnt invested.
- Repayments are made with after-tax dollars that will be taxed again when you eventually withdraw them from your account.
- The fees you pay to arrange the loan may be higher than on a conventional loan, depending on the way they are calculated.
- The interest is never deductible even if you use the money to buy or renovate your home.
CAUTION: Perhaps the biggest risk you run is leaving your job while you have an outstanding loan balance. If thats the case, youll probably have to repay the entire balance within 90 days of your departure. If you dont repay, youre in default, and the remaining loan balance is considered a withdrawal. Income taxes are due on the full amount. And if youre younger than 59½, you may owe the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty as well. If this should happen, you could find your retirement savings substantially drained.
How Do You Repay
Since youre borrowing from your 401 plan, you have to repay the loan. This is typically done by taking a portion of each paycheck and applying it toward your loan. In most cases, you can borrow for a term of up to five years, but longer-term loans may be allowed if youll use the money to buy your home. Again, borrowing is risky, and longer-term loans are riskier than shorter-term loans .
When you repay money that youve borrowed from your 401 plan, you dont get any tax benefits. That money is treated as normal taxable income to you, so it wont be like any pre-tax contributions that youve been making to the plan. You can still contribute to the plan with pre-tax dollars contributions if your plan allows) but you dont get to double-dip and get a tax break on loan repayments. Remember: You werent taxed on the money you received when you took the loan.
If you leave your job before you repay the loan, you should have an opportunity to repay any money you borrowed from the 401. But thats not always easy. You probably took the loan because you needed cash, and its therefore unlikely that you have a lot of extra money sitting around. Try to repay if possible, otherwise, you may face income taxes and tax penalties as described below. If youve been recruited to a new job, you might be able to get some help from your new employer .
Read Also: Which 401k Investment Option Is Best
What Are The 401k Withdrawal Rules For Getting My Money Back
February 14, 2016 by Justin
Before you go putting too much money into your employers retirement plan to try to hide it from Uncle Sam, it may help you to understand the 401k withdrawal rules and what is involved with getting your money back. For example:
- What if you have an emergency and you need the money right now?
- What if you are planning on buying a house?
- What if you are plan to retire early ?
Convert To An Ira And Keep Contributing
You cannot contribute to a 401 after you leave your job, so if you want to continue adding money to your retirement funds, youll need to roll over your account into an IRA. Previously, you could contribute to a Roth IRA indefinitely but could not contribute to a traditional IRA after age 70½. However, under the new Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act, you can now contribute to a traditional IRA for as long as you like.
Keep in mind that you can only contribute earned income, not gross income, to either type of IRA, so this strategy will only work if you have not retired completely and still earn taxable compensation, such as wages, salaries, commissions, tips, bonuses, or net income from self-employment, as the IRS puts it. You cant contribute money earned from either investments or your Social Security check, though certain types of alimony payments may qualify.
To execute a rollover of your 401, you can ask your plan administrator to distribute your savings directly to a new or existing IRA. Alternatively, you can elect to take the distribution yourself. However, in this case, you must deposit the funds into your IRA within 60 days to avoid paying taxes on the income.
Traditional 401 accounts can be rolled over into either a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, whereas designated Roth 401 accounts must be rolled over into a Roth IRA.
Read Also: How To Find Previous Employer’s 401k