GET TAX HELP (800) 536-0734

Borrowing From Your 401(k): Loans vs. Withdrawals

borrowing from your 401k loans vs withdrawals

Although it is not recommended, sometimes borrowing from your 401(k) savings is necessary to cover unexpected expenses or hardships. Doing so comes with tax penalties and it is important to understand your options before tapping into these funds. 

401(k) Loans 

A 401(k) loan allows you to borrow money from your retirement savings. Typically, the maximum amount that can be borrowed is 50% of the account balance, up to $50,000 in a 12-month period. However, since 401(k) accounts are distributed through employers, each plan can come with different rules and limitations.  

Since this option is considered a loan, the funds will need to be returned to the account, usually within 5 years. This also means that no taxes or penalties will need to be paid on the loan because the borrower is expected to return the money. Borrowers should keep in mind that this option does come at a price, as the loan will require paying interest. On a positive note, the interest paid goes back into the account.  

Some borrowers may wonder what happens if you miss a payment or even default on the loan. The good news is your credit score will not be impacted. The only exception to this is if you leave your current job. Since a 401(k) account is an employment perk, the benefits are withdrawn once you are separated from the employer. Sometimes, borrowers are required to repay the loan within a short period of time after termination, and failure to do so can result in not only a defaulted loan but taxes and penalties.  

401(k) Withdrawals 

In some cases of hardship, you may be able to qualify for a 401(k) withdrawal. Some examples of hardship that the IRS deem a 401(k) withdrawal an acceptable form of financial relief are: 

  • Medical expenses 
  • Foreclosure 
  • Tuition payments 
  • Funeral expenses 
  • Purchase or repair of primary residence 

Although borrowers are not required to pay back these funds, you will be charged a 10% early withdrawal penalty. In addition, the amount you withdraw will also be taxed as regular income.  

Tax Debt Relief for 401(k) Account Holders 

Borrowing from your 401(k) should not be your first choice for immediate funds. Instead, borrowers can look into using their HSA savings for medical expenses and regular savings and emergency funds for other expenses.  Optima Tax Relief has over a decade of experience helping taxpayers with tough tax situations. 

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation