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Ability to Withdraw Money Early from Retirement Plan Without Penalty Expires at Year End

Posted by Aubrey Sizer | Dec 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you may want to consider withdrawing money from your retirement account while you still can. The special exemption allowing early withdrawals without a penalty ends soon. 

Passed in March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows individuals adversely affected by the pandemic to make hardship withdrawals of up to $100,000 from retirement plans this year without paying the 10 percent penalty that individuals under age 59 ½ are usually required to pay. This exemption is only for withdrawals made by December 30, 2020.

If you decide to withdraw money from your retirement account, you will still have to pay income taxes on the withdrawals, although the tax burden can be spread out over three (3) years. If you repay some or all of the funds within three (3) years, you can file an amended tax return to get back the taxes that you paid. 

To qualify for the exemption, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You or a spouse or dependent have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You or your spouse have suffered financial hardship due to the pandemic, such as a lost job, a job offer rescinded, reduced pay, a closed business, or inability to work due to lack of childcare. 

This step should not be taken lightly. Withdrawing money now means your retirement funds will be reduced and limits your retirement plan's ability to grow. But for some people, it may be the best option to pay bills and avoid running up high-interest credit card debt. 

For information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on how the withdrawal exemption works, click here

About the Author

Aubrey Sizer

Aubrey Carew Sizer is a member of the Virginia State Bar with a practice focused on estate planning and elder law, specifically, long-term care planning, special needs planning for the disabled, guardianship and conservatorship, and probate, estate and trust administration.

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Attorney Sizer provides customized and affordable estate planning (including wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives); elder law services (including long-term care planning, special needs planning for the disabled, and guardianships and conservatorships); probate, estate and trust administration (including advising executors and administrators of estates about post-mortem planning and the local probate process in Virginia), as well as general aging and disability advice in Northern Virginia, including but not limited to Arlington, Alexandria, Ashburn, Bristow, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Gainesville, Fairfax, Falls Church, Haymarket, Herndon, Leesburg, Manassas, Manassas Park, Reston, Springfield, Sterling, and throughout Loudoun, Prince William, and Fairfax counties.

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