For individuals affected by the coronavirus, the CARES Act provides favorable tax treatment for coronavirus-related withdrawals up to $100,000 from an eligible retirement account. So if you’ve lost hours from temporary business closures, took time off to care for family members, or had to quarantine yourself—you’re eligible.
Here are the details for qualifying individuals:
- The typical 10% penalty on early withdrawals from your 401(k), 403(b) or personal retirement account does not apply to COVID-19-related withdrawals made in 2020.
- There are no mandatory withholding requirements for employers. So what you take out is yours. But you may owe taxes, which brings us to the next point.
- Your withdrawal can be spread evenly over the next three tax years until 2022. You can avoid paying any taxes at all if you pay back the amount within these three years and claim a refund on your taxes.
- The typical 50% limit is not applicable for 401(k) loans. You can now take out 100% of your vested funds up to $100,000. The CARES Act also allows you to defer payments up to one year.
Should you use retirement funds during COVID-19?
Understanding your options under the CARES Act is the easy part, choosing whether to pull funds from your retirement is a hard choice that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The rule of thumb is that you should only touch your hard-earned nest egg if it’s your last resort. Why?
- Compound interest is your best friend when it comes to retirement. Every dollar and year lost will ultimately hurt you in the end.
- Selling shares in hard times could mean missing out on gains that would occur in a rebound.
- Taxes still apply. Retirement dollars that were put away pre-tax may now be income
- when taken out and would be subject to tax. If you are seriously considering the 401(k) withdrawal option, consult a tax professional to determine the right amount.
With that said, the CARES Act takes substantial pain out of an early retirement withdrawal for qualified individuals. So for the many Americans in hardship, this could be a great option to provide much needed financial relief.
For more information, the IRS has published more information and guidance about using retirement plans for coronavirus relief.