retirement

How to crack open your IRA without triggering a tax penalty

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Different treatment for Roths
Different treatment for Roths | Westend61/Getty Images

Different treatment for Roths

These homebuying IRA options apply to traditional retirement accounts. The rules are a bit different for a Roth IRA.

The $10,000 you take out for your first home is a qualified distribution as long as you've had your Roth account for five years. You can take out your retirement money without penalty, and because Roth earnings are tax-free, you'll have no IRS bill, either.

If, however, you opened your Roth IRA less than five years ago, the withdrawal is an early distribution. As with a traditional IRA early withdrawal, a Roth holder can use the first-home exception to avoid the 10 percent penalty but might owe tax on earnings that are withdrawn.

You can reduce the tax bite by first withdrawing the already-taxed contributions you made to your Roth. IRS Publication 590-B, Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), has details.

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