However, if you had opted to take the money yourself, 20 percent of your account would have been withheld. For example, if you had $10,000 in your 401(k), $2,000 would have been withheld when you took the distribution, meaning you actually only got $8,000.
The IRS gives you 60 days to redeposit your distribution into another retirement account and maintain tax-deferred status. But even if you do that, it will cost you upfront cash.
To ensure that your entire account meets IRS regulations, you must come up with the withheld $2,000 from some other source to make your rollover contribution equal to the original $10,000 distribution.
You'll get that $2,000 back when you file your taxes. It will show up in box 4 of the 1099-R you, and the IRS, will get detailing your withdrawal. You'll count that withheld amount on your return and, depending on your other tax payments, it will come back to you as a refund or be applied toward the overall tax bill that you owe.
In the meantime, however, by taking out the money yourself, you've given Uncle Sam free use of your two grand.
If you directly transferred your pension money last year between trustees, you're in good tax shape. The details on Form 1099-R will help prove you continually maintained your account's tax-deferred status.
And if you move your retirement money this year, make sure it's a trustee-to-trustee transfer -- and look for that supporting 1099 next year.