How Much Are You Taxed on a 401k Withdrawal

When you withdraw money from your 401(k) account, it’s important to be aware of the tax implications. The amount of tax you’ll pay depends on your age, income, and the type of withdrawal you make. If you’re under 59½, you’ll typically pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty in addition to income taxes. If you’re 59½ or older, you’ll only pay income taxes on the amount you withdraw. The income tax rate you pay will depend on your income and filing status. For most people, it’s best to avoid withdrawing money from your 401(k) before you reach retirement age, as you’ll likely face significant tax penalties.

Taxes on 401(k) Withdrawals

Withdrawing funds from a 401(k) can trigger tax obligations. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the taxes you may encounter:

Premature Withdrawal Penalties

Ordinarily, you must be age 59½ or older to access funds in your 401(k) without incurring penalties. However, there are exceptions, such as:

  • Disability
  • Qualified hardship
  • Substantially equal periodic payments

If you withdraw before age 59½ without qualifying for an exception, you will generally face a 10% penalty on the amount withdrawn in addition to income tax.

Income Taxes

401(k) withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income. This means that the distribution will be added to your other income for the year and taxed accordingly. The tax rate you pay will depend on your income tax bracket.

Roth 401(k) Withdrawals

Roth 401(k) withdrawals are taxed differently. Contributions to a Roth 401(k) are made after-tax, so withdrawals are not subject to income tax. However, if you withdraw earnings from a Roth 401(k) before age 59½, you may be subject to a 10% penalty.

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Once you reach age 72 (73 if your 72nd birthday is after April 1, 2023), you must begin taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from your 401(k). These distributions are taxed as ordinary income.

Tax Withholding

When you withdraw funds from your 401(k), the plan administrator will generally withhold 20% of the distribution for federal income taxes. You can request a different withholding amount if you wish.

Table: Tax Consequences of 401(k) Withdrawals

AgeWithdrawal TypeIncome TaxPenalty
Under 59½Non-qualifiedYes10%
59½ or olderAnyYesNone
Under 59½RothNo (on earnings)10% (on earnings)
59½ or olderRothNoNone
72 or olderRMDYesNone

Income Tax on 401k Withdrawals

When you take money from a traditional 401k, it is subject to income tax. The amount you pay depends on your tax bracket and the amount you have already withdrawn.

10% Penalty Tax

If you are not yet 59.5 years old, a withdrawal before is subject to a 10% early withdrawal or a “penalty tax.”

Required Minimum Distributions & Taxes

Once you reach 72, you must begin taking RMDs. The amount of your RMD will depend on your age and your account balance. RMDs can be subject to income tax.

Exceptions to the 10% Penalty

1. If you are using the money to buy your first home
2. If you are using the money for education related to you or your family
3. If you are using the money to cover medical costs
4. If you are using the money to pay for long-term care insurance

Special Calculations for the “Roth 401k”

Roth 401ks are not subject to the 10% early withdrawal fee (provided that you meet the age requirements). However, if you take a withdrawal, you will be federally and/or state income-based taxes if you do not qualify for an exception.

Withdrawals Are Taxed as Ordinary Earning

The amount you receive from your 401k is added to your ordinary income for the year. This can put you in a higher tax bracket, which will increase your average tax rate and the amount of taxes you owe.

Withholding Taxes

When you take a withdrawal from your 401k, you must take a federal income tax withholding of 10%. You can request additional withholding if you believe that your tax bill will exceed the amount that was automatically taken out.

Other Considerations

In addition to income tax, you may also be subject to state income tax on your 401k withdrawals. The amount of tax you owe will depend on the laws of your state.


Let’s say you are in the 25% tax bracket and you receive a $10,000 withdrawal from your 401k. You will pay $2,500 in federal income tax on the withdrawal.


The amount of income tax you pay on your 401k withdrawal will depend on your tax bracket, the amount of the withdrawal, and your age. It is important to factor these variables into your financial planning when deciding when to take a withdrawal from your 401k.

Understanding Taxes on 401(k) Withdrawals

When you withdraw funds from a 401(k) account, the amount you pay in taxes depends on several factors. Generally, withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax rates, and additional penalties may apply depending on the timing and type of withdrawal.

Qualified Distributions

Qualified distributions are withdrawals made after you reach age 59½ and have met certain other requirements. These distributions are eligible for the most favorable tax treatment:

  • Taxed at ordinary income tax rates
  • No additional penalties

Non-Qualified Distributions

Non-qualified distributions are withdrawals made before age 59½ or that do not meet certain other requirements. These distributions are subject to additional taxes and penalties:

  • Taxed at ordinary income tax rates
  • 10% early withdrawal penalty (unless an exception applies)

Exceptions to the Early Withdrawal Penalty

There are several exceptions to the 10% early withdrawal penalty, including:

  • Distributions used for qualified higher education expenses
  • Distributions made due to disability
  • Distributions made after the account holder’s death

Tax Table for 401(k) Withdrawals

The following table summarizes the tax treatment of 401(k) withdrawals:

Withdrawal TypeTax RatePenalty
Qualified DistributionOrdinary income tax ratesNone
Non-Qualified DistributionOrdinary income tax rates10% early withdrawal penalty (unless an exception applies)

401(k) Withdrawals and Taxes

Withdrawing money from your 401(k) account can have tax implications, depending on the type of withdrawal and your circumstances.

Traditional 401(k) Withdrawals

  • Taxes are due on all withdrawals from a traditional 401(k) account.
  • Withdrawals before age 59½ may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty, in addition to income taxes.
  • Withdrawals after age 59½ are subject to income taxes only.

Roth 401(k) Withdrawals

Withdrawals from a Roth 401(k) account are tax-free if certain conditions are met:

  • The account has been open for at least five years.
  • The withdrawal is made after age 59½, or due to disability, death, or a first-time home purchase.

Withdrawals that do not meet these conditions may be subject to income taxes and a 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Table: Tax Implications of 401(k) Withdrawals

Type of WithdrawalTax Implications
Traditional 401(k), age 59½ or olderIncome taxes only
Roth 401(k), age 59½ or older, with at least 5 yearsNo taxes
Traditional 401(k), before age 59½Income taxes and 10% penalty
Traditional 401(k), over age 59½, for specific reasonsIncome taxes only
Roth 401(k), before age 59½Income taxes and 10% penalty

It is important to consider the tax implications before withdrawing money from your 401(k) account. Consulting with a financial advisor can help you determine the best withdrawal strategy for your individual circumstances.

Thanks for sticking with me through this detailed discussion of 401(k) withdrawals and taxes. I hope it’s been helpful in understanding the implications. Remember, planning ahead is key to minimize the tax bite and maximize your retirement savings. If you have any more questions or need further guidance, don’t hesitate to visit again. My virtual door is always open, so feel free to drop by later for more financial wisdom.