Tax law allows you to take a distribution from your IRA account, and as long as you return the distribution to your IRA within 60 days, there are no tax ramifications. However, many taxpayers overlook that you are only allowed to take a distribution once in a 12-month period, and violating this rule can have unexpected tax ramifications.
The one-year period is measured based on the date a distribution is received. If the second distribution is received before the same date one year later, it is a disqualified rollover.
Example – Jack takes a distribution from his IRA on June 30 of year one and subsequently rolls over the distribution (puts the funds back into the IRA) within the 60-day rollover period. Jack must wait until June 30 of year two before another distribution is eligible for a rollover. Any additional distributions taken during the one-year waiting period would be taxable.
Example – A taxpayer received a distribution from his IRA with Chase bank in February, which he immediately rolled into a new IRA with Wells Fargo. Then, in May, he took a distribution from the Wells Fargo IRA and rolled it back into the IRA at Wells within 60 days. Even though he rolled the exact amount back into the same institution within 60 days, the distribution from Chase had started the running of the one-year waiting period. Thus, his second distribution was in violation of the one-year waiting period and was a taxable distribution. The redeposit of what he thought was a rollover was actually a contribution to the IRA.
Like everything taxes, there are exceptions to the one-year rule, including the following:
Direct Transfers – As long as IRA funds are transferred directly between trustees, the transaction is not considered a rollover. A taxpayer can make as many direct transfers in a year as he or she wants; in fact, utilizing direct transfers is the preferred way to move funds from one IRA to another because it eliminates certain tax-return reporting issues.
- Roth Conversions – Traditional IRA to Roth IRA conversions are not considered rollovers for purposes of the one-year rule.
- Distributions to and from Qualified Plans – Since the one-year rule only applies to IRA-to-IRA rollovers, rollovers to and from other types of retirement plans are not governed by the one-year rule. However, SEPS and SIMPLE plans are treated as an IRA for purposes of the one-year waiting period.
- Failed Financial Institutions – An IRA distribution made from a failed financial institution by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is generally disregarded for purposes of applying the one-rollover-per-year limitation.
Tax Consequences – When the one-year rule is violated, any distribution after the first made within the one-year waiting period will not be treated as a rollover, with the following tax consequences:
- Traditional IRA – In the case of a traditional IRA, the entire distribution will be taxable, and if the taxpayer is under age 59½ at the time of the distribution, the 10% early distribution penalty will apply to the taxable portion.
- Roth IRA – In the case of a Roth IRA that is a:
o Non-Qualified Distribution – A non-qualified distribution is one where the Roth IRA has not met the five-year aging requirements. Five-year aging generally means the Roth IRA has been in existence for a continuous period of five years, although the first and last years do not need to be full years. A distribution from a Roth IRA that has not met the five-year aging requirements would be a non-qualified distribution, and the earnings would be taxable. Of course, the original contributions are never taxable based on a specific distribution sequence: contributions, then conversions from traditional IRAs or rollovers from qualified plans (first the part that was taxed when the funds went into the Roth and then the nontaxable part), and lastly earnings. A 10% early distribution penalty applies to any amount attributable to the part of the conversion or rollover amount that had to be included in income at the time of the conversion or rollover (the recapture amount).
o Qualified Distribution – No tax or penalty applies if a distribution from a Roth IRA is a “qualified distribution,” which is a distribution made after the five-year aging period is met if the taxpayer:– Is age 59½ or older,
– Is disabled,
– Is deceased, or
– Qualifies for the first-time homebuyer exception (maximum $10,000).
Disqualified Rollover – An additional problem arises because the disqualified rollover amount will be treated as an IRA contribution, subject to the normal annual contribution and AGI limitations. Tax law includes a penalty when someone contributes more than is allowed (excess contribution). Thus, an excess contribution (except for on the year of the distribution) would be subject, annually, to a 6% excess contribution penalty.
There are a couple of possible remedies available for a disqualified rollover:
- Corrective Distribution – The excess contribution and the interest attributable to it can be withdrawn by the extended due date of the return for the year the distribution was made, thus undoing the rollover. The distribution that resulted in a disqualified rollover will be subject to tax, as outlined earlier, depending upon whether it was a traditional or Roth IRA. The earnings attributable to withdrawn funds are taxable. However, the annual 6% excess contribution penalty is avoided.
- Contributions in Future Years – The excess contribution could be left in the IRA and can be treated as an IRA contribution for a later year. However, until the excess contribution is fully absorbed as eligible future contributions, the annual 6% excess contribution penalty will apply.
Early Withdrawal Penalty – If the disallowed rollover occurs before reaching age 59½, an early distribution penalty of 10% of the taxable amount will apply and is in addition to the normal tax.
Although there are a number of exceptions to the under-age-59½ early distribution penalty, the following might be used to avoid or mitigate an early withdrawal penalty associated with a disqualified rollover:
- Contributions Returned before the Due Date – If the taxpayer already made an IRA contribution for the tax year, the amount of that contribution can be withdrawn tax-free by the extended due date of the tax return, provided:
2. The taxpayer also withdraws any interest or other income earned on the contributions, and
3. The taxpayer includes in income, for the year during which the withdrawal was made, any earnings on the contributions withdrawn.
- Medical Insurance Exception – The amount that is exempt from the penalty is the amount the taxpayer paid during the year for medical insurance for the taxpayer and his or her spouse and dependents. To qualify for this exception, the taxpayer must have:
2. Received unemployment compensation for 12 consecutive weeks,
3. Made IRA withdrawals during the year he/she received unemployment or in the following year, and
4. Made the withdrawals no later than 60 days after being reemployed.
- Higher Education Expense Exception – The part not subject to the penalty is generally the amount that is not more than the qualified higher education expenses for the taxpayer and his or her spouse, children, or grandchildren for the year at an eligible educational institution.
The bottom line is to make sure you don’t have more than one IRA rollover in a year. However, if you inadvertently do, please call us as soon as you realize the error so we can determine what actions can be taken to mitigate the resulting taxes and penalties.