Roth IRA Withdrawal Rules – How and When You Can Access Your Funds

The Roth IRA is a great investment option that offers tax-free growth and tax diversification and is an important part of many people’s retirement planning. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned and you may need to make a withdrawal from your Roth IRA before you reach retirement age. Thankfully, the Roth IRA is also…
Advertising Disclosure.

Advertiser Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone. This article may contain links from our advertisers. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

The Roth IRA is a great investment option that offers tax-free growth and tax diversification and is an important part of many people’s retirement planning.

Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned and you may need to make a withdrawal from your Roth IRA before you reach retirement age.

Thankfully, the Roth IRA is also one of the most flexible retirement account options because you can make tax and penalty free withdrawals of your Roth IRA contributions at any time. However, it is important to understand how Roth IRA withdrawal rules work.

Otherwise, you may subject yourself to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. It is also a great idea to get ideas on where to open a Roth IRA, and not just go with your first choice, you need to know all your options.

Roth IRA Withdrawal Rules

In general, you can make tax and penalty free withdrawals of the principal (contributions) at any time. However, the earnings from your principal cannot normally be withdrawn under age 59½ without paying the 10% early withdrawal penalty. Earnings can generally be withdrawn without penalties after age 59½, provided you meet the 5-year rule.

There are exceptions to these rules. Read on to learn more about qualified and non-qualified distributions, and as always, consult with a financial professional if you have any questions before you make any withdrawals or distributions.

Roth IRA 5 year rule. Withdrawals from your Roth IRA will only be classified as qualified distributions if it has been at least 5 years since you first opened and contributed to your Roth IRA, regardless of your age when you opened it. As an example, you can normally make penalty-free withdrawals at age 59½, but if you made your first contribution at age 58, you would need to wait until age 63 to withdraw any earnings made on that portion of your contributions.

Roth IRA Qualified and Non-qualified Distributions

It is important to understand the difference between qualified and non-qualified distributions before making any withdrawals or taking distributions from your Roth IRA.

Provided your it meets the 5-year rule, a qualified distribution from your Roth IRA will be both tax and penalty free, which is important because either of these can seriously erode any gains your investments may have earned. A non-qualified distribution may trigger both taxes and early withdrawal penalties, decimating the value of the investments in your Roth IRA.

Qualified distributions. Qualified distributions are withdrawals that are both tax and penalty free. In most cases, withdrawals made after age 59½ will be qualified distributions, provided they meet the 5-year rule for investment gains. According to IRS Publication 590:

A qualified distribution is any payment or distribution from your Roth IRA that meets the following requirements.

1. It is made after the 5-year period beginning with the first taxable year for which a contribution was made to a Roth IRA set up for your benefit, and
2. The payment or distribution is:

  • Made on or after the date you reach age 59½,
  • Made because you are disabled,
  • Made to a beneficiary or to your estate after your death, or
  • One that meets the requirements listed under First home under Exceptions in chapter 1 (up to a $10,000 lifetime limit).

Non-qualified distributions. Non-qualified distributions are withdrawals which do not meet the requirements of a qualified distribution and may be subject to taxes or early withdrawal penalties. In many cases, non-qualified distributions will be taxed as ordinary income and be subjected to the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Exceptions to early withdrawal penalty (aka 10% penalty)

There are some exceptions that allow you to make withdrawals from your Roth IRA that are subjected to ordinary income taxes but are not subjected to the 10% early withdrawal penalty. Some of these include:

  • The distributions are part of a series of substantially equal payments (minimum five years or until the Roth IRA owner reaches age 59½, whichever is longer).
  • You have unreimbursed medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).
  • You are paying medical insurance premiums after losing your job.
  • The distributions are not more than your qualified higher education expenses (for yourself or eligible family members).
  • The distribution is due to an IRS levy of the qualified plan.
  • The distribution is a qualified reservist distribution.
  • The distribution is a qualified disaster recovery assistance distribution.
  • The distribution is a qualified recovery assistance distribution.

Order of Roth IRA Distributions

The IRS makes it easier for taxpayers to make penalty free withdrawals from their accounts by the way they assign the order of IRA withdrawals. Again, referring to IRS Publication 590, Roth IRA distributions occur in the following order:

  1. Regular contributions.
  2. Conversion and rollover contributions, on a first-in-first-out basis.
  3. Earnings on contributions.

As you can see, regular contributions are the first to be withdrawn, and they can be withdrawn at any time without taxes or penalties. The taxable portion of your withdrawals is held until the end, making it easier for you to make a penalty-free withdrawal.

Roth IRA Withdrawals for first home purchase or college expenses

Roth IRAs have a feature that allows account holders to make qualified distributions for a first home purchase or for qualified college expenses.

First home purchase withdrawal from Roth IRA. Early Roth IRA withdrawals for the purchase of a first home are allowed up to a $10,000 lifetime maximum per account. Withdrawals can be made for the purchase of your first home, or the benefit can be used for your children or grandchildren. However, the $10,000 limit is always in effect, regardless of who the money is used for.

Using a Roth IRA for college expenses. You can avoid early withdrawal penalties associated with early Roth IRA distributions if you use the funds for qualified higher education expenses for yourself, your spouse, your children, or their descendants.

Pros and Cons of early Roth IRA withdrawals

The ability to make tax and penalty free withdrawals from Roth IRAs is a level of flexibility not found in most other retirement accounts. But just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.

Even though you may not pay any taxes or penalties to withdraw some of your funds, doing so may hurt your long term retirement planning.

Roth IRAs offer a great tax diversification strategy and making early withdrawals, qualified or not, hampers your retirement planning and limits the amount of money you will have in retirement.

Compound interest is one of the most powerful forces in the universe, but making withdrawals limits the amount of money you have working for you and reduces the amount of time your money has to compound, effectively reducing your potential retirement nest egg. I recommend looking at all options before making early withdrawals from your Roth IRA.

Best Places to Open a Roth IRA

The Roth IRA is a great investment option for many reasons. Upon deciding to upon a Roth IRA, the next step is to decide where to open a Roth IRA. Here are a few options with great perks to keep in mind:

Ally Invest: Ally Invest is a great option for those looking to open a Roth IRA account. With no account set-up fees, no annual fee, and no account minimum, there are no barriers to entry. Additionally, Ally Invest does not charge commissions for stock and ETF trades, making this one of the most cost-effective methods for investing in an IRA.

Learn More About Ally Invest

Betterment: Betterment sets itself apart for it’s ease-of-use for investing beginners. Betterment is actually robo-advisor, meaning the company uses software and advanced algorithms to manage their client’s portfolios. The advantage of this method is lower fees for the investor.

Learn More About Betterment

E*Trade: You’ve probably heard of E*Trade before, and there’s a good reason for that. The company has been an industry-leader online brokerage for over 20 years. Over this time, they have developed and fine-tuned numerous investment options for both the investing beginner and veteran.

Learn More About E*Trade


About Post Author

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

Posted In:

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave A Comment:

    Comments:

    About the comments on this site:

    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. George says

    Just turned 59 and a half and l am a 30 plus year Postal worker. l was planning on being creative, to avoid taxes, and using the Roth balance of in my tsp account to pay off a 20K loan from the tsp. I planned on withdrawing 20k from Roth side and then paying it back to the tsp for the loan amt. Then l found out about IRS Notice 2014-54. I am still employed as a Postal worker, still contributing to tsp and still paying the loan back. Can l do the following? Take all the money out of the tsp except $1. Transfer the Roth portion of the withdraw into a new Roth IRA and transfer the non-Roth portion into a new traditional IRA. Then withdraw the 20k out of the Roth IRA and payback the tsp for the 20k loan. It may sound weird but it works for us. THANK YOU!!!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Howard, this will depend on who inherits your Roth IRA. I recommend looking up “rules for inheriting a Roth IRA” for more information. You can also speak with a tax professional or estate planner for more information. They can help you devise a plan to support your survivors and minimize the tax issues that may be present. I wish you the best.

  2. Mark Charnow says

    Am planning on taking out about 13,000 from Roth Ira as am over 67 and wife 73 plus have had Roth for a long time. This is for an air conditioner/furnace. Was wondering if we should for tax purposes also withhold federal tax/state taxes and what percentage would do or just not withhold.

    • Ryan Guina says

      Mark, You should be able to withdraw those funds without having to pay taxes, so long as you have had the funds in there at least 5 years.

  3. Patricia Breslin says

    So since I opened a ROTH IRA in 2010 and then moved it to another financial institution in 2016, my 5 years started in 2010. Since I am over 59.5 I should be able to withdraw without penalty.

  4. Edith Robbins says

    I am over 72 and want to use my Roth Ira to help pay for a condo. I have held this Roth Ira way over 5 years. Can I take most of the money out now without having to pay taxes on it?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Edith, based on the information you provided, it sounds like you should be able to make tax-free withdrawals from your Roth IRA. Best wishes with your house-hunting!

  5. Dana Haddaway says

    I would like to cash in my Roth IRAS that I have had for over five years. I am only 53. What taxes and penalties will I have to pay?

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hello Dana, This isn’t a question that can be answered in the comments section of this article. It will depend on many factors, including how much you of your accounts is contributions, how much is gains on your contributions, how long ago you made your contributions, and other factors. I strongly recommend speaking with a tax professional to make sure you understand how the withdrawals will be handled, and how they will be taxed. Keep in mind the taxes may not be due until you file your taxes next year, so if you spend everything at once, you may receive a nasty tax bill from the IRS. It’s always best to run the numbers up front so you understand the potential impact. Best wishes!

    • Ryan Guina says

      Jcarlos, I recommend speaking with a tax professional to understand the rules regarding the Roth IRA withdrawals and how this will affect your account. It may be possible to withdraw the contributions and use those funds. But make sure you receive guidance to ensure you don’t make a mistake and end up owing taxes or penalties. This is something you definitely want to get right the first time, and paying a tax professional for guidance is a very smart move as it will help you avoid potentially costly mistakes.

  6. Cora says

    I would like to use my Roth IRA to pay for my son’s college tuition and other educational expenses. Will that qualify for a penalty free and tax free, since i am only 55 yrs old? Is it also possible to pay the money directly to the school?

  7. Buckeyegirl says

    I see this thread is a few years old but I just want to say thank you fredct. I was preparing taxes when I came across the issue of Box 7 and entering J. The tax software I was using had given me an error message stating that I could not complete the tax return because it did not support 1099’s with this code. I almost gave up and filed w/o it and amend it later. I decided to do some research about non-qualified distributions with code J and came across this thread. So your comment was very helpful. I am switching my software to taxact.com so I can submit the return by the deadline. Whew, you just saved me from having to complete it manually.

  8. Lance says

    If I have qualified distributions of say $10,000 available to withdraw from my Roth IRA, am I able to withdraw those funds at different times in a one year span. For example, if i took out $2,000 in Jan. 2014, then $2,000 in Feb. 2014 and then the final $6,000 in March 2014, would it affect the tax free/penalty free qualified distribution? I know most people talk about taking a one time withdrawal in a calendar year, but I would like to make multiple withdrawals in that calendar year. I am assuming it is the same as taking a distribution just once during the calendar year. Thanks

  9. fredct says

    Disclaimer: I am not a tax attorney and not a substitute for doing your own research or consulting with a professional.

    I don’t believe you will. The answers are all in the link I provided above. One phrase I see there is: “Are Distributions Taxable?
    You do not include in your gross income qualified distributions or distributions that are a return of your regular contributions from your Roth IRA(s). ”

    A CNN article says the same thing:
    “You may withdraw your contributions to a Roth IRA penalty-free at any time for any reason, but you’ll be penalized for withdrawing any investment earnings before age 59 ½, unless it’s for a qualifying reason. ”
    http://money.cnn.com/retirement/guide/IRA_Roth.moneymag/index5.htm

  10. Brent says

    Hi fredct,

    I have a very specific question for you. I am less than 59.5 years old and want to withdraw some of my contribution (cost basis) from my Roth IRA. The purpose of my withdrawal is to use the money for an alternative investment. This is not a qualifying distribution by any means. Nevertheless, it is a withdrawal of cost basis only. My hope is to withdraw the full amount I need (all of which is less than the cost basis and represents contributions only); however, some of this withdrawal would represent contributions that are less than 5 years old as a result. I recognize that keeping the money in the Roth IRA and benefitting from compounding interest over time is generally the smartest choice, but my alternative investment opportunity is one I want to pursue and I am hopeful for high returns.

    Given the above, will I incur the 10% penalty fee or taxes on any portion (both the 5+ year-old-portion and the <5 year-old-portion) of my proposed withdrawal (all of which is cost basis/contributions)? Thanks so much.

  11. fredct says

    I don’t believe so. My understanding is the 5 year clock ends 5 years after you open your first Roth. It’s a counter for your whole Roth/all your Roths together, not for each individual dollar separately.

    However, since I’m not a tax pro, you should either consult one, or at least read IRS publication 590 for yourself – Ch 2 discusses Roths:
    http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/ch02.html
    And here’s the link to the Section on distributions:
    http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/ch02.html#en_US_2013_publink1000231057

  12. Roy says

    If one is over 59.5 and the Roth account is well over the 5 year requirement … in that case … is there any restrictions at all regarding distributions? … are there any penalties at all on distributions in that case? … even if one has made contributions to the Roth recently?

  13. Patrick R. says

    I started contributing to a Roth 401k in January of 2007. I rolled it over to a Roth IRA when I changed jobs in December of 2010 and have since made no additional contributions. Do you know if the 5-yr rule applies to the pre-rollover opening/contribution date or the post-rollover opening/roll-over date? The rollover was handled properly and managed between institutions vs. me ever touching the money, if that helps at all.

    • Fred says

      Patrick, according to the link below, the 5 year period starts when you open your (first) Roth IRA. It explicitly addresses your situation too. So the time goes with your account, not withe the money.

      So if that was your first Roth IRA then the 5 year clock started in 2010. If you rolled it into an existing one, or otherwise had a Roth IRA before, then the opening of that count is the relevant date.

  14. JP says

    fredct you saved the day…..

    I was having issues with figuring out how to navigate on TAxact to input the basis of my Roth IRA contribution and I found your tips to be spot on.

    – JP

  15. fredct says

    Jack,

    If you read my previous post, the 5 year rule only applies to profits (gains) in the Roth. Anything you rolled over would be part of your basis, so that’s not really an issue.

    However, I’m very confused why you want to roll it to a Roth. WHy not just take it from the Traditional when you’re ready? By moving it to a Roth, all you’re really doing is recognizing the taxes early. Why pay taxes earlier?

  16. Jack Lee says

    I am over 70 yrs. old and have “rolled over” monies from my Traditional IRA but would like to move some monies into a Roth IRA. I intend to use it to pay college expenses for my grandchildren which I understand is a “qualified expense”. Are such withdrawls subject to the 5 year rule?

    • Mark Charnow says

      Hello-I am 67 years old and my wife 73 and we are having to get an air conditioner/furnace and at looking at taking out the money from our roth Ira’s and was wondering–should I do taxes on it of a certain or federal tax holdings of a certain per cent to help cut and what amount-is about 13,000-We have had the roth for several years -what would help taxes

  17. Steve Sertell says

    My understanding of the ROTH IRA is that one can take money out of it as long as the initial ROTH has been active for over five years and the person is 59 1/2 or older. The actual funds that the money was put into do not need to stay in the ROTH for five years, i.e. the ROTH was opened in 2003 but the individual draws from a mutual fund contribution made in 2008 that is part of the ROTH. That said, it wouldn’t seem logical for someone to put money in a ROTH at age 70, if he or she couldn’t touch it until they were 75. Where does the truth lie? Thanks.

    • fredct says

      I don’t understand your confusion Steve. First, you can only contribute to an IRA if you have earned income (i.e. income from a job). So few 70-year-olds will quality to make an IRA contribution anyhow.

      Second, what you state would only be true if the 70 year old had never contributed to a Roth at any time if the previous 70 years of their life.

      Third, the 5-year rule only applies to *profits* on a Roth. You can take out your contributions at any time.

      Finally, if that’s the case – there’s a working 70 year old who has never contributed to a Roth before *and* they need all the money (including profits) in less than 5 years , then, yes, a Roth probably doesn’t make any sense.

  18. Steve says

    fredct,

    I was doing them through taxact.com, but after reviewing the federal form and instruction booklet, it appears there are more options if I proceed by hand. Seems the software has limitations. Kind of frustrating since this does not seem like a difficult transaction to document. I plan to try Turbo Tax this weekend to see if it accepts my basis, otherwise, long hand it is.

    Let me know if you have any other advice.

    Steve

    • fredct says

      Steve, I use taxact, so I just took a look… what you need to do is enter a basis for the IRA.

      On the Help bar on the right, search for “basis in Roth IRA”, without the quotes. The first result will be “FAQ – Roth IRA – Entering Basis of Nonqualified Distributions” and it has step-by-step instructions.

      They key is that, when entering the 1099-R, check the box that says “taxable amount not determined” (box 2b) and enter “J” as the code in box 7.

      Then, when you’re done, go back to the “Federal Q&A” and under “retirement income” you’ll see a choice for “Nondeductible IRA’s (Form 8606)” (for you or your spouse). Click it, then Click ‘yes’ to review, and a couple screens later you’ll get to the “Roth IRA Distributions – Basis” screen, where you can enter your basis. Form 8606 it the one that has this information.

      If you can’t follow my instructions, the Help should be more detailed.

      I admit that TaxAct isn’t quite as friendly as I’d like (it should really give you that option without going back to the Form 8606), but it’s much cheaper than the others, so I’m willing to dig into the help to get the answer.

      I’d also suggest giving them feedback on this… I’ve had a lot of luck with them implementing changes of mine the following year.

      • Steve says

        fredct,

        Thank you. Your help got me to where I needed to be. Appreciate you taking time to help a fellow tax payer!

        Let me know if you are ever passing through Keokuk, IA and I’ll pick up dinner.

        Steve

      • Val says

        Fredct,
        Thanks for posting the taxact steps for form 8606, for Steve and others (including me), it was very helpful !
        Val.

      • Scott says

        freedct – I had the exact same issue in TaxAct too! thanks so much for figuring it out for us!

  19. Steve says

    I withdrew a portion of my contribution from my Roth IRA. The 1099-R form I received list the proper amount withdrawn in the Gross Distrbution box 1 and in box 2b checked Taxable amount not determined. In box 7 the distribution code listed is J = Early distribution from a Roth IRA, no known exception. I under 591/2, but can not figure out how to enter the 1099-R information into my income tax return to reflect the amount withdrawn is 100% my contribution portion and not earnings. Any ideas?

    Thanks,

    Steve

    • Ryan says

      Steve, I recommend speaking with a tax or investment professional to make sure your forms are filled out properly. It’s worth paying for professional advice specific to your situation any time you deal with retirement accounts.

  20. Josh E. says

    If I’m understanding this correctly, if you are under 59.5 AND you make a withdrawal – provided it’s the principle only – this is not subject to a 10% penalty?

    I’m hoping that’s the case as some of the information out there is conflicting.

    • Ryan says

      Josh, the money also has to pas the 5 year test – meaning it must have been in the account for 5 years before you can withdraw it. But when in doubt, always consult a financial professional.

  21. Marcy says

    One question I have is if a client has multiple Roth IRAs at different financial institutions, when taking a distribution, is it correct that they should be taking into consideration all contracts for determining what would be taxable. For example Joe has made $5000 contributions to 4 Roth IRAs to diversify his investments. Joe is under age 591/2 therefore not qualifying for a distribution under current IRS rules. He decides in year three to take a $6000 distribution out of Roth IRA 1 that is now worth $7000. Even though Roth IRA 1 has a gain, because he has three other Roth IRAs with contributions totaling $15,000 Joe would not experience any taxable income for this distribution. It is up to Joe to maintain a papertrail of the contributions he has made to the IRS and file an 8606 form when filing his tax return. It would be appreciated if you could let me know your thoughts regarding my interpretation.

    Thanks.

    • Ryan says

      Marcy, I am not a professional financial or tax advisor, so I will have to defer this question for a pro.

      On a side note, I am not sure why he had to open IRAs at several different institutions to achieve diversification unless those particular investments were only available with the specific financial institutions he uses. It would probably be easier to manage the investments if they were housed in fewer locations. It might not be a bad idea to take a closer look at the investments he has to determine if there is a single investment firm that offers the right mix of diversified investments for his needs. Most brokerage firms offer a competitive selection of investment opportunities, so he may be able to roll over several IRAs into one or two IRAs, which could make some things much easier.

    • fredct says

      Again, it’s all laid out in IRS Publication 590. There’s no need for any interpretation.

      While I believe you’re on the right track (counting multiple same-type IRAs as one), I didn’t follow all the particulars and I don’t know if the rules vary depending on the type of IRA or other details.

      But I know exactly where you can go to find out:
      http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/

  22. Mark says

    My question regarding withdrawals from the Roth is this: I was told that one can withdraw money from their Roth if it is only the basis of what they put into it…not to include the interest accrued. …and that it has be more than 5 years ago. So, any money that I put into my Roth starting before July 2005 is fair game for me to withdraw (only the basis). Is this correct?

  23. tony says

    These are great stuff. You guys are great. I am still not clear on one issue.

    I think I read somewhere that you can withdraw from your Roth IRA before you 59.5 years old without paying either tax & penalty. but you have to withdraw equal amount for 5 years.

    Here is the specifics:

    The Roth IRA was open over 10 years ago – a rollover from an IRA & I never made any more contributions since.

    Already took out the entire original amount of the rollover, so only gains left in the account.

    Can I still withdraw (say $40k) each year for 5 years without both tax & penalty?
    Or I have to pay regular income tax, but no 10% penalty.
    Or I have to pay both tax & 10% penalty?

    Thanks.

    • Ryan says

      Tony, based on my understanding of the IRS Publication 590, you can make early withdrawals and avoid the 10% penalty (but you still have to pay income taxes) if the distributions are part of a series of substantially equal payments for a duration of a minimum of five years or until you reach age 59½, whichever is longer.

      However, I am not 100% certain of the implications in your situation and I highly recommend contacting a financial planner or tax professional before making any withdrawals from your Roth IRA.

      • fredct says

        Yup, the term is “substantially equal periodic payments” (SEPP). If you google that, you’ll find a lot about the pros and cons.

  24. Nancy says

    I am considering a home purchase, and it’s not my first home, so I do not have a qualified distribution.

    However, I can withdraw any amount no greater than my contributions, and I am fine, right?

    I really don’t want to be hit with a tax or penalty, and the rules are confusing. Most web sites I’ve seen talking about Roth IRA’s only talk about withdrawals in terms of the earnings…

    • fredct says

      Depends what you mean by ‘fine’. If you withdraw money from your IRA, you will forever lose all tax free earning potential for that money. It will no longer be growing tax free or invested for you in your retirement accounts.

      I would seriously urge you to consider taking the time to save the money regularly before you purchase your home. The home market isn’t exactly going to run away from you in the meantime these days. Robbing from your retirement savings to purchase your home is something I really wish you would reconsider.

      However, since I’m think you’re only asking from a tax perspective, the answer is yes:
      “Are Distributions Taxable?
      You do not include in your gross income qualified distributions or distributions that are a return of your regular contributions from your Roth IRA(s). You also do not include distributions from your Roth IRA that you roll over tax free into another Roth IRA. You may have to include part of other distributions in your income. See Ordering Rules for Distributions , later.”
      Source: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/ch02.html#en_US_publink1000231057

  25. Money Reasons says

    Nice expansion on the Roth IRA withdrawal rules!

    The reasons listed above is why I will be using a Roth IRA as an emergency fund in addition to a retirement vehicle!

    Why us it as an emergency fund? Because I don’t ever expect to use it, but if I have to, it’s there!

  26. PK says

    Don’t forget that even though you are taking a non-qualified distribution, you can withdraw contribution at any time (before 5 years etc) penalty and tax free.

    I also do not think than any distribution will be subject to ordinary income taxes, with the exception of non-qualified earnings distributions.

  27. fredct says

    Great summary of a very important subject, Ryan. Everyone who’s eligible who make funding a Roth IRA a key part of their planning.

    Now, as you’re probably used to from me… heh… I need to correct one small thing…

    First, I believe you’ve misstated the 5 year rule. Or at least what’s in that first gray box is misleading. My understanding is it only needs to be 5 years from your *first* contribution. So that “age 58/63” example is only true if you make your first contribution to *any* Roth at age 58. Not simply add to an existing Roth.

    See here for my source (particularly Figure 2-1):
    http://www.irs.gov/publications/p590/ch02.html#en_US_publink1000231061

    Other than that, I just want to emphasis the ‘Substantially Equal Periodic Payments’ option, especially for people who retire early. Its a great and entirely legit ‘loophole’ for people who want to retire early. Even though you’ve probably repeatedly heard that you can’t access IRA money without penalty until age 59 1/2, that’s not really true.

    Just make sure you know what you’re doing, or consult a professional if you’re not comfortable with it, because you have to withdraw enough, and continue doing so for long enough, in order to not end up owing all the back taxes & penalties that you’ve avoided.

  28. DB says

    Regarding the Roth IRA – while it is true that you are not permitted to withdraw any of your earnings prior to age 59.5 (unless you use them for a first-time home purchase), you are certainly entitled to withdraw your contributions *at any time.* This may present quite a temptation to a young adult just getting out in the world!

    • Ryan says

      DB, I believe contributions must be in the Roth IRA for 5 years before they can be withdrawn without penalty; but any gains must be left in the Roth IRA or they will be subjected to early withdrawal penalties.

      • Money Reasons says

        I’m pretty sure you can withdrawal the contributions at any time. The 5 year hold period doesn’t apply to contributions (but it does to conversions and earnings).

The Military Wallet is a property of Three Creeks Media. Neither The Military Wallet nor Three Creeks Media are associated with or endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. The content on The Military Wallet is produced by Three Creeks Media, its partners, affiliates and contractors, any opinions or statements on The Military Wallet should not be attributed to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Dept. of Defense or any governmental entity. If you have questions about Veteran programs offered through or by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, please visit their website at va.gov. The content offered on The Military Wallet is for general informational purposes only and may not be relevant to any consumer’s specific situation, this content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. If you have questions of a specific nature consider consulting a financial professional, accountant or attorney to discuss. References to third-party products, rates and offers may change without notice.

Advertising Notice: The Military Wallet and Three Creeks Media, its parent and affiliate companies, may receive compensation through advertising placements on The Military Wallet; For any rankings or lists on this site, The Military Wallet may receive compensation from the companies being ranked and this compensation may affect how, where and in what order products and companies appear in the rankings and lists. If a ranking or list has a company noted to be a “partner” the indicated company is a corporate affiliate of The Military Wallet. No tables, rankings or lists are fully comprehensive and do not include all companies or available products.

Editorial Disclosure: Editorial content on The Military Wallet may include opinions. Any opinions are those of the author alone, and not those of an advertiser to the site nor of  The Military Wallet.