If You Get Terminated From Your Job You Have The Option Of Cashing Out Your 401 However This Is Probably Not The Smartest Move
Image source: Andrew Magill.
If you get terminated from your job, you have the ability to cash out the money in your 401 even if you haven’t reached 59 1/2 years of age. This includes any money you’ve contributed and any vested contributions from your employer — plus any investment profits your account has generated. However, you may face a 10% early withdrawal penalty from the IRS for cashing out early, so this might not be the best option. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision about your 401 after you’re no longer with your employer.
How to cash out and the implications of doing soThe procedure for cashing out is usually rather simple. All you need to do is contact your plan’s administrator and complete the necessary distribution paperwork. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind, especially regarding the tax implications of cashing out.
Unless your 401 is of the Roth variety, all of the money you withdraw will be treated as taxable income, no matter how old you are or the reason for the withdrawal. So, even if you are older than 59 1/2, it’s important to consider how cashing out will affect your tax status for the year. If you have a large 401 balance, cashing out could easily catapult you into a higher tax bracket. Your plan provider will be required to withhold 20% of the amount you cash out for taxes , and will also file a form 1099-R to document the distribution.
See If You Qualify For An Exception To The 10% Tax Penalty
Generally, the IRS will waive it if any of these situations apply to you:
You choose to receive substantially equal periodic payments. Basically, you agree to take a series of equal payments from your account. They begin after you stop working, continue for life and generally have to stay the same for at least five years or until you hit 59½ . A lot of rules apply to this option, so be sure to check with a qualified financial advisor first.
You leave your job. This works only if it happens in the year you turn 55 or later .
You have to divvy up a 401 in a divorce. If the courts qualified domestic relations order in your divorce requires cashing out a 401 to split with your ex, the withdrawal to do that might be penalty-free.
Other exceptions might get you out of the 10% penalty if you’re cashing out a 401 or making a 401 early withdrawal:
You become or are disabled.
You rolled the account over to another retirement plan .
Payments were made to your beneficiary or estate after you died.
You gave birth to a child or adopted a child during the year .
The money paid an IRS levy.
You were a victim of a disaster for which the IRS granted relief.
You overcontributed or were auto-enrolled in a 401 and want out .
You were a military reservist called to active duty.
Withdrawing Money Early From Your 401
The method and process of withdrawing money from your 401 will depend on your employer, and which type of withdrawal you choose. As noted above, the decision to remove funds early from a retirement plan should not be made lightly, as it can come with financial penalties attached. However, should you wish to proceed, the process is as follows.
Step 1: Check with your human resources department to see if the option to withdraw funds early is available. Not every employer allows you to cash in a 401 before retirement. If they do, be sure to check the fine print contained in plan documents to determine what type of withdrawals are available, and which you are eligible for.
Step 2: Contact your 401 plan provider and request that they send you the information and paperwork needed to cash out your plan, which should be promptly completed. Select providers may be able to facilitate these requests online or via phone as well.
Step 3: Obtain any necessary signatures from plan administrators or HR representatives at your former employer affirming that you have filed the necessary paperwork, executed the option to cash in your 401 early, and are authorized to proceed with doing so. Note that depending on the size of the company, this may take some time, and you may need to follow up directly with corporate representatives or plan administrators at regular intervals.
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Because You Asked: How Long Does It Take To Cash Out 401k After Leaving Job
Not every job works out the way you might have hoped. Whatever your reason is for looking for a new employer, you’re probably wondering about cashing out your 401 k from your old job if you’re quitting before you reach retirement age. Depending on your individual retirement account, this may involve penalties.
This article discusses how long it might take for you to cash out your 401 k once you’ve left your job. It also goes over your possibilities for doing so and the different types of 401 k account you can have. If you don’t want to cash out the old account, you can generally transfer the money to a new 401 k plan or IRA account. It would help if you decided this based on any potential penalties and your investment options.
How Do You Withdraw Money From A 401 When You Retire
After retirement, one of the common questions that people ask is âhow do you withdraw money from a 401 when you retire?â. Find out the options you have.
As you plan your retirement, you should think about how you are going to live off your retirement savings once you are out of employment. You will need to figure out how to withdraw your retirement savings in your 401 post-retirement, and the best withdrawal strategies so that you donât exhaust your retirement savings.
When withdrawing your retirement savings from a 401, you can decide to take a lump-sum distribution, take a periodic distribution , buy an annuity, or rollover the retirement savings into an IRA.
Usually, once youâve attained 59 Â½, you can start withdrawing money from your 401 without paying a 10% penalty tax for early withdrawals. Still, if you decide to retire at 55, you can take a distribution without being subjected to the penalty. However, any distribution you take after retirement is taxed, and you must include the distribution as an income when filing your annual tax return.
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Why Transfer Your 401 To An Ira
Why would you move savings from an old 401 plan to an IRA? The main reason is to keep control of your money. In an IRA, you get to decide what happens with the funds: You choose where to invest and how much you pay in fees, and you dont need anybodys permission to take money out of the account.
Cost and providers: In your 401, your employer controls almost everything. Employers choose vendors for the plan, which determines the investment lineup available. Those might not be investments you like, and they might be more expensive than you want. If you want to practice socially-responsible investing, the 401 may lack options for that.
Timing: 401 plans also require extra steps when you want to withdraw funds: An administrator needs to verify that you are eligible to access your money before youre allowed to take a distribution. Plus, some 401 plans dont allow partial withdrawalsyou might need to take your full balance.
If you need access to your 401 savings for any reason, its easier when the money is in an IRA. In most cases, you call your IRA provider or request a withdrawal online. Depending on what you own in your account, the funds might go out as soon as the next business day. But 401 plans might need a few extra days for everybody to sign off on the distribution.
Control Tax Withholding
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Withdrawing From A Roth 401k
Most 401k plans involve pre-tax contributions, but some allow for Roth contributions, meaning those made after taxes already have been paid.
The benefit of making a Roth contribution to your 401k plan is that you already have paid the taxes and, when you withdraw the money, there is no tax on the amount gained as long as you meet these two provisions:
- You withdraw the money at least five years after your first contribution to the Roth account
- You are older than 59 ½ or you became disabled or the money goes to someone who is the beneficiary after your death
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How To Take Money Out Of Your 401
There are many different ways to take money out of a 401, including:
- Withdrawing money when you retire: These are withdrawals made after age 59 1/2.
- Making an early withdrawal: These are withdrawals made prior to age 59 1/2. You may be subject to a 10% penalty unless your situation qualifies as an exception.
- Making a hardship withdrawal: These are early withdrawals made because of immediate financial need. You may be still be penalized for them.
- Taking out a 401 loan: You can borrow against your 401 and will not incur penalties as long as you repay the loan on schedule.
- Rolling over a 401: If you leave your job, you can move your 401 into another 401 or IRA without penalty as long as the funds are moved over within 60 days of your distribution.
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Alternatives To Tapping Your 401
If you must tap into retirement savings, it’s better to look at your other accounts firstspecifically IRAsespecially if you’re buying a first home .
Unlike 401s, IRAs have special provisions for first-time homebuyerspeople who haven’t owned a primary residence in the last two years, according to the IRS.
First, look to take a distribution from your IRAif you have one. You may be able to withdraw IRA contributions without penalty due to a qualified financial hardship. You can also withdraw up to $10,000 of earnings tax-free if the money is used for a first-time home purchase. As a first-time homebuyer, you can take a $10,000 distribution without owing the 10% tax penalty, although that $10,000 would be added to your federal and state income taxes. If you take a distribution larger than $10,000, a 10% penalty would be applied to the additional distribution amount. It also would be added to your income taxes.
The 4% Withdrawal Rule
The 4% rule says that you can withdraw 4% of your savings in the first year, and calculate subsequent yearâs withdrawals on the rate of inflation. This rule is based on the idea that you should withdraw 4% annually, and maintain the financial security in retirement for 30 years. This strategy is preferred because it is simple to compute, and gives retirees a predictable amount of income every year.
For example, if you have $1 million in retirement savings, 4% equals $40,000 in the first year. If the inflation rises by 2.5% in the second year, you should take out an additional 2.5% of the first yearâs withdrawal i.e. $1000. Therefore, the withdrawal for the second year will be $41,000.
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How And Why To Transfer Your 401 To An Ira
By Justin Pritchard, CFP® in Montrose, CO
When you change jobs or retire, you have several options for the money in your 401. You can typically transfer that money to an IRA, leave it in the plan, move it to your new jobs retirement plan, or cash out. In many cases, its smart to move your savings into an IRA. Well cover the pros and cons here so you can decide whats best.
The process can be confusing and intimidating, so its easy to do nothing. But that might result in leaving your savings with an employer that you no longer have any connection to, and one you might even dislike or distrust.
Key takeaway:Read more below, or listen to the explanation .
Transfer Regularly To/from Your Account
Schedule automatic transfers to a mutual fund position, IRA, or 529 account from your bank or brokerage Core account. Free1 Schedule automatic transfers from your Fidelity account to another Fidelity account or a bank account. Free1 Your employer deposits your paycheck to your Fidelity account. Free1
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Making The Numbers Add Up
Put simply, to cash out all or part of a 401 retirement fund without being subject to penalties, you must reach the age of 59½, pass away, become disabled, or undergo some sort of financial hardship . Whatever the circumstance though, if you choose to withdraw funds early, you should prepare yourself for the possibility of funds becoming subject to income tax, and early distributions being subjected to additional fees or penalties. Be aware as well: Any funds in a 401 plan are protected in the event of bankruptcy, and creditors cannot seize them. Once removed, your money will no longer receive these protections, which may expose you to hidden expenses at a later date.
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What Are The Pros And Cons Of Withdrawal Vs A 401 Loan
A withdrawal is a permanent hit to your retirement savings. By pulling out money early, youll miss out on the long-term growth that a larger sum of money in your 401 would have yielded.
Though you wont have to pay the money back, you will have to pay the income taxes due, along with a 10% penalty if the money does not meet the IRS rules for a hardship or an exception.
A loan against your 401 has to be paid back. If it is paid back in a timely manner, you at least wont lose much of that long-term growth in your retirement account.
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Series Of Substantially Equal Payments
If none of the above exceptions fit your individual circumstances, you can begin taking distributions from your IRA or 401k without penalty at any age before 59 ½ by taking a 72t early distribution. It is named for the tax code which describes it and allows you to take a series of specified payments every year. The amount of these payments is based on a calculation involving your current age and the size of your retirement account. Visit the IRS website for more details.
The catch is that once you start, you have to continue taking the periodic payments for five years, or until you reach age 59 ½, whichever is longer. Also, you will not be allowed to take more or less than the calculated distribution, even if you no longer need the money. So be careful with this one!
Withdrawing After Age 595
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Substantially Equal Periodic Payments
Substantially equal periodic payments are another option for withdrawing funds without paying the early distribution penalty if the funds are in an Individual Retirement Account rather than a company-sponsored 401 account.
SEPP withdrawals are not permitted under a qualified retirement plan if you are still working for your employer. However, if the funds are coming from an IRA, you may start SEPP withdrawals at any time.
There is an exception to this rule for taxpayers who die or become permanently disabled.
SEPP must be calculated using one of three methods approved by the Internal Revenue Service : fixed amortization, fixed annuitization, or required minimum distribution . Each method will calculate different withdrawal amounts, so choose the one that is best for your financial needs.