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401(k) Plan Hardship Withdrawals

Like loans, hardship withdrawals are allowed by law, but your employer is not required to provide for them in your plan. Again, most companies do, but some don’t. The cost of administering such a program can be prohibitive for many small companies. Check with your Human Resources department if you’re not sure if your plan allows hardship withdrawal. Like loans, your employer must adhere to some very strict and detailed guidelines.

The IRS code that governs 401k plans provides for hardship withdrawals only if: (1) the withdrawal is due to an immediate and heavy financial need; (2) the withdrawal must be necessary to satisfy that need (i.e. you have no other funds or way to meet the need); (3) the withdrawal must not exceed the amount needed by you; (4) you must have first obtained all distribution or nontaxable loans available under the 401k plan; and (5) you can’t contribute to the 401k plan for six months following the withdrawal.

The following six items are considered by the IRS as acceptable reasons for a hardship withdrawal:

  • Un-reimbursed medical expenses for you, your spouse, or dependents.

  • Purchase of an employee’s principal residence.

  • Payment of college tuition and related educational costs such as room and board for the next 12 months for you, your spouse, dependents, or children who are no longer dependents.

  • Payments necessary to prevent eviction of you from your home, or foreclosure on the mortgage of your principal residence.

  • funeral expenses, and

  • repair of a primary residence.

Hardship withdrawals are subject to income tax and, if you are not at least 59½ years of age, the 10% withdrawal penalty. You do not have to pay the withdrawal amount back.

Plan participants may stop contributing to the plan at anytime, but may not receive a distribution from the plan prior to age 59½ other than in the form of a loan, a hardship withdrawal, or early retirement (often at age 55 with 10-years of service).

For a participant to receive a distribution (prior to age 59½) a ‘distributable event’ must occur such as retirement, death, disability, or employment termination. When an employee is terminated they have several options including depositing the assets to an conduit IRA, rollover to another employer retirement plan, or taking the cash and paying the penalties and income tax.

 
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Information is provided for review and consideration only. Please consult legal and tax advisors for practical advice pertaining to your business and personal situations.

This page was last reviewed and/or updated on Friday, July 03, 2015 05:21 PM

 

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