How Much is 401k Penalty for Early Withdrawal

Early withdrawal from a 401k retirement account before age 59½ typically incurs a 10% penalty on the withdrawn amount. This penalty is imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is in addition to any applicable income tax on the withdrawal. For example, if you withdraw $10,000 from your 401k before age 59½, you would owe a $1,000 penalty to the IRS, plus any applicable income tax based on your tax bracket. Exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty include using the funds for certain expenses, such as medical emergencies or higher education costs. However, these exceptions have specific requirements and limitations. It’s advisable to carefully consider the potential penalties and consult with a financial advisor before making an early withdrawal from your 401k account.
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Withdrawing money from your 401(k) before you reach age 59½ typically incurs a 10% penalty from the IRS, in addition to any income taxes you may owe. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule.

Exceptions to the 401k Early Withdrawal Penalty

  • Disability
  • Substantially equal periodic payments (SEPPs)
  • Medical expenses
  • Higher education expenses
  • First-time home purchase (up to $10,000)
  • Qualified birth or adoption expenses


If you become disabled and unable to work, you can withdraw money from your 401(k) without paying the penalty.

Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (SEPPs)

You can avoid the penalty by taking out substantially equal periodic payments from your 401(k) for at least five years or until you reach age 59½, whichever is longer.

Medical Expenses

You can withdraw money from your 401(k) to pay for unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

Higher Education Expenses

You can withdraw money from your 401(k) to pay for qualified higher education expenses for yourself, your spouse, or your children.

First-Time Home Purchase

You can withdraw up to $10,000 from your 401(k) to buy a first home, provided you haven’t owned a home in the past three years.

Qualified Birth or Adoption Expenses

You can withdraw up to $5,000 (or $10,000 for multiple births) from your 401(k) to pay for qualified birth or adoption expenses.

DisabilityPermanently and totally disabled
SEPPsSubstantially equal periodic payments for at least five years or until age 59½
Medical ExpensesUnreimbursed medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of AGI
Higher Education ExpensesQualified higher education expenses for yourself, spouse, or children
First-Time Home PurchaseUp to $10,000 for a first home purchase within the past three years
Qualified Birth or Adoption ExpensesUp to $5,000 ($10,000 for multiple births) for qualified birth or adoption expenses

401k Early Withdrawal Penalty

Withdrawing money from your 401k before you reach age 59½ typically comes with a 10% penalty, in addition to income taxes on the amount withdrawn. This penalty is imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to encourage people to save for retirement.

Avoiding the 401k Early Withdrawal Penalty

  • Wait until you reach age 59½: This is the age at which you can withdraw money from your 401k without penalty.
  • Take a loan from your 401k: You can borrow up to 50% of your vested account balance, up to a maximum of $50,000. You will have to pay interest on the loan, but you will not have to pay the 10% penalty.
  • Use a hardship withdrawal: You can withdraw money from your 401k if you have a financial hardship, such as medical expenses or the inability to pay your mortgage. However, you will have to pay the 10% penalty, and the amount you withdraw will be subject to income taxes.
  • Contribute to a Roth 401k: Roth 401k contributions are made with after-tax dollars, so you can withdraw them at any time without paying a penalty. However, you will have to pay income taxes on the amount withdrawn.
Withdrawal MethodPenalty
Early withdrawal (before age 59½)10%
401k loan0%
Hardship withdrawal10%
Roth 401k withdrawal0%

Early 401(k) Withdrawal Penalty

Withdrawing funds from your 401(k) before age 59½ typically incurs a 10% penalty from the IRS, in addition to income tax on the amount withdrawn. This penalty may significantly impact your long-term financial goals.

Long-Term Impact of Early 401(k) Withdrawal

The penalty and taxes reduce the amount available for retirement savings and growth. Additionally, it may disrupt your retirement income plan and increase tax liability in the future.

  • Reduced Retirement Savings: The penalty and taxes reduce the amount available for investment, potentially limiting future growth.
  • Increased Tax Liability: Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income, which could push you into a higher tax bracket and increase your overall tax bill.
  • Delayed Retirement: The financial impact of the penalty and taxes may force you to delay retirement or reduce expenses during retirement.
50-5410% + additional 1% for each year under 55

Well, there you have it! Now you know all about the 401k penalty for early withdrawal. I hope this article has been helpful in shedding some light on the subject. If you have any more questions, be sure to consult with a financial advisor or contact your 401k administrator. Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit again later for more financial tips and advice!