Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Gold vs Cash in a Financial Crisis - Richard_Mills
2.Current Stock Market Rally Similarities To 1999 - Chris_Vermeulen
3.America See You On The Dark Side Of The Moon - Part2 - James_Quinn
4.Stock Market Trend Forecast Outlook for 2020 - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Who Said Stock Market Traders and Investor are Emotional Right Now? - Chris_Vermeulen
6.Gold Upswing and Lessons from Gold Tops - P_Radomski_CFA
7.Economic Tribulation is Coming, and Here is Why - Michael_Pento
8.What to Expect in Our Next Recession/Depression? - Raymond_Matison
9.The Fed Celebrates While Americans Drown in Financial Despair - John_Mauldin
10.Hi-yo Silver Away! - Richard_Mills
Last 7 days
UK Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Projections Trend Forecast - Video - 28th Mar 20
The Great Coronavirus Depression - Things Are Going to Change. Here’s What We Should Do - 28th Mar 20
One of the Biggest Stock Market Short Covering Rallies in History May Be Imminent - 28th Mar 20
The Fed, the Coronavirus and Investing - 28th Mar 20
Women’s Fashion Trends in the UK this 2020 - 28th Mar 20
The Last Minsky Financial Snowflake Has Fallen – What Now? - 28th Mar 20
UK Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Projections Trend Forecast Into End April 2020 - 28th Mar 20
DJIA Coronavirus Stock Market Technical Trend Analysis - 27th Mar 20
US and UK Case Fatality Rate Forecast for End April 2020 - 27th Mar 20
US Stock Market Upswing Meets Employment Data - 27th Mar 20
Will the Fed Going Nuclear Help the Economy and Gold? - 27th Mar 20
What you need to know about the impact of inflation - 27th Mar 20
CoronaVirus Herd Immunity, Flattening the Curve and Case Fatality Rate Analysis - 27th Mar 20
NHS Hospitals Before Coronavirus Tsunami Hits (Sheffield), STAY INDOORS FINAL WARNING! - 27th Mar 20
CoronaVirus Curve, Stock Market Crash, and Mortgage Massacre - 27th Mar 20
Finding an Expert Car Accident Lawyer - 27th Mar 20
We Are Facing a Depression, Not a Recession - 26th Mar 20
US Housing Real Estate Market Concern - 26th Mar 20
Covid-19 Pandemic Affecting Bitcoin - 26th Mar 20
Italy Coronavirus Case Fataility Rate and Infections Trend Analysis - 26th Mar 20
Why Is Online Gambling Becoming More Popular? - 26th Mar 20
Dark Pools of Capital Profiting from Coronavirus Stock Markets CRASH! - 26th Mar 20
CoronaVirus Herd Immunity and Flattening the Curve - 25th Mar 20
Coronavirus Lesson #1 for Investors: Beware Predictions of Stock Market Bottoms - 25th Mar 20
CoronaVirus Stock Market Trend Implications - 25th Mar 20
Pandemonium in Precious Metals Market as Fear Gives Way to Command Economy - 25th Mar 20
Pandemics and Gold - 25th Mar 20
UK Coronavirus Hotspots - Cities with Highest Risks of Getting Infected - 25th Mar 20
WARNING US Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Going Ballistic! - 24th Mar 20
Coronavirus Crisis - Weeks Where Decades Happen - 24th Mar 20
Industry Trends: Online Casinos & Online Slots Game Market Analysis - 24th Mar 20
Five Amazingly High-Tech Products Just on the Market that You Should Check Out - 24th Mar 20
UK Coronavirus WARNING - Infections Trend Trajectory Worse than Italy - 24th Mar 20
Rick Rule: 'A Different Phrase for Stocks Bear Market Is Sale' - 24th Mar 20
Stock Market Minor Cycle Bounce - 24th Mar 20
Gold’s century - While stocks dominated headlines, gold quietly performed - 24th Mar 20
Big Tech Is Now On The Offensive Against The Coronavirus - 24th Mar 20
Socialism at Its Finest after Fed’s Bazooka Fails - 24th Mar 20
Dark Pools of Capital Profiting from Coronavirus Stock and Financial Markets CRASH! - 23rd Mar 20
Will Trump’s Free Cash Help the Economy and Gold Market? - 23rd Mar 20
Coronavirus Clarifies Priorities - 23rd Mar 20
Could the Coronavirus Cause the Next ‘Arab Spring’? - 23rd Mar 20
Concerned About The US Real Estate Market? Us Too! - 23rd Mar 20
Gold Stocks Peak Bleak? - 22nd Mar 20
UK Supermarkets Coronavirus Panic Buying, Empty Tesco Shelves, Stock Piling, Hoarding Preppers - 22nd Mar 20
US Coronavirus Infections and Deaths Going Ballistic as Government Start to Ramp Up Testing - 21st Mar 20
Your Investment Portfolio for the Next Decade—Fix It with the “Anti-Stock” - 21st Mar 20
CORONA HOAX: This Is Almost Completely Contrived and Here’s Proof - 21st Mar 20
Gold-Silver Ratio Tops 100; Silver Headed For Sub-$10 - 21st Mar 20
Coronavirus - Don’t Ask, Don’t Test - 21st Mar 20
Napag and Napag Trading Best Petroleum & Crude Oil Company - 21st Mar 20
UK Coronavirus Infections Trend Trajectory Worse than Italy - Government PANICs! Sterling Crashes! - 20th Mar 20
UK Critical Care Nurse Cries at Empty SuperMarket Shelves, Coronavirus Panic Buying Stockpiling - 20th Mar 20
Coronavirus Is Not an Emergency. It’s a War - 20th Mar 20
Why You Should Invest in the $5 Gold Coin - 20th Mar 20
Four Key Stock Market Questions To This Coronavirus Crisis Everyone is Asking - 20th Mar 20
Gold to Silver Ratio’s Breakout – Like a Hot Knife Through Butter - 20th Mar 20
The Coronavirus Contraction - Only Cooperation Can Defeat Impending Global Crisis - 20th Mar 20
Is This What Peak Market Fear Looks Like? - 20th Mar 20
Alessandro De Dorides - Business Consultant - 20th Mar 20
Why a Second Depression is Possible but Not Likely - 20th Mar 20

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Coronavirus-bear-market-2020-analysis

The Perils of Tapping a 401(k)

Personal_Finance / Pensions & Retirement Aug 24, 2010 - 07:54 AM GMT

By: Nilus_Mattive

Personal_Finance

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleFidelity just released a new report and it’s pretty depressing.

The upshot? A record number of Americans are making hardship withdrawals from their 401(k) retirement plans. Worse yet, the number of U.S. workers borrowing from their plans is also at a 10-year high!


I’ll get to why this is so disheartening in a moment. But first …

A Quick Look at the Ways to Remove Money from a 401(k) Plan

The 401(k) plan is the most ubiquitous retirement account in the United States, and for good reason: Any money employees contribute is not counted for income tax purposes. Instead, it’s taxed — along with investment earnings — upon withdrawal.

So how and when can money come out of a 401(k) plan?

The first way is upon retirement, which is defined by the tax code as the contributor reaching age 59 ½. At that point and beyond, any money that comes out of a 401(k) plan is simply taxed as regular income.

The second way is through separation of employment. In this case, the contributor has four choices, which boil down to:

  1. Leaving the money where it is
  2. Rolling it over into a new employer’s plan
  3. Rolling it into an Individual Retirement Account
  4. Withdrawing it.

When done correctly, the first three options don’t result in any taxes or penalties. However, the fourth option DOES (unless the employee also happens to meet the conditions for retirement discussed above).

In short, money that comes out of a 401(k) plan before the contributor reaches age 59 ½ results in both regular income taxes being due but ALSO a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty.

The third way is through what is known as a “hardship withdrawal.” While they’re not required to do so, most 401(k) plans allow contributors to remove money under certain circumstances — including medical expenses, the purchase of a principal residence, tuition and related educational costs, and funeral expenses.

Individual plans have some leeway in how they specifically define “hardship” and what particular events can trigger withdrawals, but the IRS does provide the following guidelines:

“For a distribution from a 401(k) plan to be on account of hardship, it must be made on account of an immediate and heavy financial need of the employee and the amount must be necessary to satisfy the financial need. The need of the employee includes the need of the employee’s spouse or dependent.

“Under the provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, the need of the employee also may include the need of the employee’s non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiary.

“A distribution is not considered necessary to satisfy an immediate and heavy financial need of an employee if the employee has other resources available to meet the need, including assets of the employee’s spouse and minor children. Whether other resources are available is determined based on facts and circumstances.”

In a few specific cases — such as death, permanent disability, or termination of service after age 55 — the IRS will not impose the 10 percent early penalty on these withdrawals. But in most other cases it will.

Worse, employees will also be required to pay ordinary income taxes on the amount removed.

And they will most likely be barred from contributing any new money to any employer retirement plan for at least the following six months!

The fourth way to remove money — temporarily — from a 401(k) is through a loan. Many plans will also allow participants to take out loans from their 401(k) accounts.

Generally, these loans have five-year terms — unless it’s for a primary residence — and carry fixed interest rates. Repayments must be made in regular installments, and everything goes back into the 401(k).

Now, Here’s Why I Find All the Current Borrowing and Withdrawing So Troubling …

Obviously, a lot of Americans have hit rough patches lately … and other sources of credit remain in short demand … which is why hardship withdrawals are at an all-time high.

Borrowing from a retirement account now could leave you struggling down the line ...
Borrowing from a retirement account now could leave you struggling down the line …

But with so many people nearing retirement already grossly underfunded, watching even more money flow out of their accounts is going to prove catastrophic down the line.

And since most of those withdrawals are getting hit with not just regular taxes but also the additional 10 percent penalty, we’re talking about a lot of nest egg money getting vaporized before it even goes toward their immediate needs!

Oh, and get this — Fidelity said 45 percent of the people who took a hardship loan last year took ANOTHER ONE this year!

What about all the 401(k) borrowing going on?

Well, on the surface it’s better to take a loan than an outright withdrawal because taxes and penalties aren’t assessed.

Still, there are a couple of things I find problematic:

#1. Unlike hardship withdrawals, there are no hard-and-fast rules on loans. So there’s no guarantee that this money is truly being borrowed for dire circumstances. People could simply be tapping their future retirements in the same way that they tapped their home equity a few years ago.

#2. While it’s true that this money should ultimately be repaid, and at least the interest will go back to into the retirement account, it essentially means that very little new money will be contributed. The end result will be a lower final balance and the loss of the very tax advantages that make 401(k)s attractive in the first place.  

Look, if you’re absolutely stuck right now, then you’ve got to do what’s necessary. But in my opinion, you should avoid 401(k) hardship withdrawals at all costs … and think long and hard before you consider borrowing against your future retirement.

After all, the other typical sources of retirement income are looking shakier than they ever have before … and the folks tapping their 401(k)s may find themselves completely out of options in their golden years.

Best wishes,

Nilus

This investment news is brought to you by Money and Markets. Money and Markets is a free daily investment newsletter from Martin D. Weiss and Weiss Research analysts offering the latest investing news and financial insights for the stock market, including tips and advice on investing in gold, energy and oil. Dr. Weiss is a leader in the fields of investing, interest rates, financial safety and economic forecasting. To view archives or subscribe, visit http://www.moneyandmarkets.com.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Comments

Rick
24 Aug 10, 11:14
Retirement Plans

The 401K's, the Roth IRA's and traditional IRA's will degrade into just another glorified Ponzi scheme like Social Security. Cash those plans out now while you still may have that option.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules