How Much is the Penalty for Early Withdrawal of 401k

Early withdrawal from a 401k can result in a significant penalty and tax implications. The penalty for early withdrawal is typically 10% of the amount withdrawn, and the funds are also subject to income tax. There are exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty, such as withdrawals made after the age of 59½ or withdrawals used to pay for qualified expenses such as medical bills or college tuition. It’s important to carefully consider the potential penalties and taxes before making an early withdrawal from a 401k.

How is the penalty for a 401k early Withdrawal?

Early withdrawals from a 401(k) plan can result in a 10% penalty tax in addition to income taxes. The penalty applies to withdrawals made before the account holder reaches age 59½, regardless of the reason for the Withdrawal. However, there are several exceptions to the penalty, including:

  • withdrawals made after the account holder becomes disabled
  • withdrawals made to pay for medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of the account holder’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
  • withdrawals made to pay for higher Education expenses (up to $10,000 per year)
  • withdrawals made to purchase a primary Residence (up to $10,000 per year)
  • withdrawals made to pay for certain birth or adoption expenses (up to $5,000 per year)

In addition to the 10% penalty, early withdrawals from a 401(k) plan may also be subject to income taxes.

Age Restriction for Withdrawals

The table below summarizes the age restrictions for withdrawals from a 401(k) plan:

AgeWithdrawal penalty
Under 59½10% penalty tax
59½ or olderNo penalty tax

Early Withdrawal Tax Penalty

Withdrawing money from your 401(k) before you reach age 59½ may result in an early withdrawal tax penalty of 10% on the amount withdrawn.

The following exceptions may apply to avoid the penalty:

  • Withdrawals made after you reach age 59½
  • Withdrawals made after you become disabled
  • Withdrawals made to pay for qualified medical expenses
  • Withdrawals made to pay for higher education expenses
  • Withdrawals made to buy a first home (up to $10,000)

In addition to the 10% early withdrawal tax penalty, you may also have to pay income tax on the amount withdrawn, depending on your tax bracket.

Tax BracketIncome Tax Rate
10%10%
12%12%
22%22%
24%24%
32%32%
35%35%
37%37%

For example, if you withdraw $10,000 from your 401(k) before you reach age 59½ and you are in the 22% tax bracket, you would owe $2,200 in taxes and penalties ($1,000 early withdrawal tax penalty + $1,200 income tax).

Early Withdrawal Penalty for 401k Withdrawals

Withdrawing funds from a 401k before reaching the age of 59½ typically incurs a 10% penalty on the amount withdrawn. This penalty is in addition to any income taxes that may be due on the withdrawal.

Exceptions to Early Withdrawal Penalty

* Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (SEPPs): Systematic withdrawals taken over a period of at least five years or until you reach age 59½.
* Birth or Adoption Expenses: Up to $5,000 for qualified birth or adoption expenses.
* Medical Expenses: Unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
* Higher Education Expenses: Expenses for qualified higher education for yourself, your spouse, or dependents.
* Qualified Disaster Distributions: Relief from a federally declared disaster.
* Military Reservist Distributions: Withdrawals for military reservists called to active duty.
* First-Time Homebuyers: Up to $10,000 (or $20,000 for married couples filing jointly) for a down payment on a first home.
* Disability: If you become permanently and totally disabled before age 59½.
* Death: Beneficiaries of a deceased participant can withdraw funds without penalty.

Penalty-Free Withdrawal Limits
ExceptionMaximum Withdrawal Limit
Birth or Adoption Expenses$5,000
First-Time Homebuyers$10,000 ($20,000 for married couples filing jointly)

Potential Penalties and Interest

Withdrawing money from a 401(k) before age 59½ can trigger penalties and interest. The penalty for early withdrawal is 10% of the amount withdrawn. This penalty is in addition to any federal or state income taxes you may owe on the withdrawal.

In addition to the penalty, you may also have to pay interest on the amount withdrawn. The interest rate is determined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and is adjusted annually. For 2023, the interest rate is 5%.

The following table summarizes the potential penalties and interest for early withdrawal of 401(k) funds:

Withdrawal AmountPenaltyInterest
$10,000$1,000$500
$25,000$2,500$1,250
$50,000$5,000$2,500

, This can be a big decision for you, so we’ve tried to present all the relevant factors to help you avoid missing something important.