Exceptions to Early IRA Withdrawals Penalty

Early withdrawals from a traditional IRA before age 59 1/2 generally incur a 10 percent penalty tax on the taxable portion of the withdrawal. There are several exceptions to this rule that can help you avoid the penalty under specific circumstances. Below, we have outlined the key exceptions that may apply to your situation.

Substantially equal periodic payments. You can arrange for a series of substantially equal periodic payments. This method requires careful calculation and adherence to strict rules but allows penalty-free withdrawals.

Medical expenses. Withdrawals for medical expenses exceeding 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, or AGI, are exempt from the penalty.

Higher education expenses. You can use penalty-free withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses for you, your spouse, and your children.

First-time home purchase. You can withdraw up to $10,000 (lifetime limit) for qualified home acquisition costs without penalty.

Birth or adoption. You can withdraw up to $5,000 for expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child.

Emergency expenses. Starting January 1, 2024, you can withdraw up to $1,000 annually for emergency personal expenses without penalty.

Disaster recovery. Withdrawals for qualified disaster recovery expenses are exempt from the penalty, up to an aggregate limit of $22,000.

Disability. If you are disabled and cannot engage in substantial gainful activity, you can withdraw funds without penalty.

Long-term care. Beginning December 29, 2025, you can take penalty-free withdrawals for qualified long-term care expenses.

Terminal illness. Withdrawals due to terminal illness are exempt from the penalty.

Post-death withdrawals. Amounts withdrawn after the IRA owner’s death are not subject to the penalty.

Military reservists. Active-duty military reservists called to duty for at least 180 days can withdraw funds without penalty.

Health insurance premiums during unemployment. If you receive unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks, you can withdraw funds to pay for health insurance premiums without penalty.

Domestic abuse victims. Starting January 1, 2024, you can take penalty-free withdrawals of up to $10,000 if you are a victim of domestic abuse.

IRS levies. Withdrawals to pay IRS levies on the IRA account are not subject to the penalty.

It’s important to note that SIMPLE IRAs incur a 25 percent penalty for early withdrawals within the first two years of participation. Additionally, Roth IRAs have different rules, allowing penalty-free access to contributions but potentially taxing and penalizing withdrawals of earnings.

If you want to discuss your IRA, please contact us today!

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