The SECURE 2.0 Act, passed as part of an omnibus spending bill in December 2022, added new exceptions to the 10% federal income tax penalty for early withdrawals from tax-advantaged retirement accounts. The Act also expanded an existing exception that applies specifically to employer plans. These exceptions are often called 72(t) exceptions, because they are listed in Section 72(t) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The 10% penalty tax generally applies to withdrawals prior to age 59½ from IRAs, employer-sponsored plans [such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans], and traditional pension plans, unless an exception applies. The penalty is assessed on top of ordinary income taxes.
Here are the new exceptions with their effective dates. Withdrawals covered by these exceptions can be repaid within three years to an eligible retirement plan. If repayment is made after the year of the distribution, an amended return would have to be filed to obtain a refund of any taxes paid.
Expanded exception for employer accounts
The 10% penalty does not apply for distributions from an employer plan to an employee who leaves a job after age 55, or age 50 for qualified public safety employees. SECURE 2.0 extended the exception to public safety officers with at least 25 years of service with the employer sponsoring the plan, regardless of age, as well as to state and local corrections officers and private-sector firefighters.
Previously established exceptions
These exceptions to the 10% early withdrawal penalty were in effect prior to the SECURE 2.0 Act. They cannot be repaid unless indicated. Exceptions apply to distributions relating to:
These exceptions could be helpful if you are forced to tap your retirement account prior to age 59½. However, keep in mind that the greatest penalty for early withdrawal from retirement savings may be the loss of future earnings on those savings. Some employer plans allow loans that might be a better solution than an early withdrawal.
Retirement account withdrawals can have complex tax consequences. Consult your tax professional before taking specific action.
Prepared by Broadridge. Edited by BFSG. Copyright 2023.
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