It’s hard to think of a lot of good reasons to tap into your retirement fund before it’s matured and you’ve hit the ripe old age of 59 ½. This is because you’ll incur a 10% penalty and that money will be immediately subject to taxes.
There are, however, certain instances in which an individual can withdraw money from their IRA without incurring the standard penalty.
The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 made it possible for folks to raid their IRAs under certain circumstances. Here, we’re going to discuss a couple of those circumstances. Money from your IRA can be used toward the purchase of a new house or even to pay off a mortgage on a house you already own. Under the right circumstances, that money can be withdrawn without penalty and retain tax-privileged status.
Incentives for First-Time Home Buyers
One good reason you might want to raid your retirement account is if you’re a first time home buyer. The IRS offers a number of incentives for first-time buyers, and one of them is a withdrawal of up to $10,000 without penalty. You’ll, of course, need to use that money to buy your first home, but so long as your paperwork is in order, the IRS won’t be beating down your door.
In order to be considered as a first time home buyer, you must (obviously) have not owned a home within the last 2 years. Nor can you have had, within the last 2 years, a financial interest in a home. So if you owned a home 3 years ago, it’s possible you can still qualify as a “first-time” homebuyer. In addition, your spouse is also allowed to withdraw $10,000 from their IRA.
Rules can differ depending on the kind of IRA you have. For those that have a Roth IRA, the money can be withdrawn tax-free because taxes have been paid on deposit. But you’re still on the hook for the 10% penalty for raiding the IRA early. That is, unless, you’re using the money for a first-time home purchase. If the Roth IRA is at least 5 years old then the withdrawn earnings themselves are also tax-free.
Using Your IRA for Mortgage Relief
Another good reason for tapping into your IRA early is medical hardship. For an individual who has gotten behind on their mortgage payments, the IRS makes a concession on a withdrawal so long as it can be shown that there is a serious medical condition that is preventing them from working.
In order to do that, an individual will have to meet very specific requirements. Namely, a physician must declare that you are unable to currently work due to either physical or mental disability.
The Bottom Line
For obvious reasons, the best-case scenario for any individual is not to raid their IRA simply because they need the money for a house or a mortgage. Nonetheless, it’s possible, under the right circumstances, to use that money without incurring the 10% penalty early withdrawal penalty.
Before doing this, however, you should contact an advisor and ensure that all of your ducks are in a row with the IRS.