How to Repay Cares Act 401k Withdrawal

If you withdrew money from your 401(k) account under the CARES Act due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you have a three-year window to repay the funds. By repaying the withdrawal, you can reduce your tax liability and preserve your retirement savings. To repay the funds, you can make direct contributions to your 401(k) account or an eligible IRA. If you repay the funds within the three-year period, they will not be subject to income tax or the 10% early withdrawal penalty. Additionally, you can use funds from other sources besides your paycheck, such as savings or a personal loan, to make the repayment. It’s important to note that not all 401(k) plans allow for repayments, so you should check with your plan administrator to confirm eligibility.

Contribution Limits and Timeframes

The CARES Act raised the limit on 401(k) contributions for 2020, and extended the repayment period for loans taken from 401(k) plans under the CARES Act. The following are the key provisions:

  • Contribution limits: The annual contribution limit for 401(k) plans was increased to $19,500 in 2020, up from $19,000 in 2019. The catch-up contribution limit for individuals age 50 or older was increased to $6,500, up from $6,000 in 2019.
  • Repayment period: The CARES Act extended the repayment period for loans taken from 401(k) plans under the CARES Act to three years, up from one year. This means that you have until the end of 2023 to repay any loans that you took out in 2020 under the CARES Act.

If you have taken a loan from your 401(k) plan under the CARES Act, it is important to understand the repayment rules. Failure to repay your loan on time can result in tax penalties and other adverse consequences.

Table 1: 401(k) Contribution Limits
YearContribution LimitCatch-Up Contribution Limit

Repaying CARES Act 401(k) Withdrawals

The CARES Act, passed in 2020, allowed individuals to make penalty-free withdrawals from their 401(k) retirement accounts to alleviate financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. These withdrawals, up to $100,000, were not subject to the usual 10% penalty for early withdrawals, but they do need to be repaid within a three-year period.

Repaying your CARES Act 401(k) withdrawal is crucial to avoid the potential tax consequences and the impact on your retirement savings. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to repay and the key considerations:

Tax Implications of Repayment

The tax implications of repaying your CARES Act 401(k) withdrawal depend on the repayment period and how the funds were used:

  • Repayment within 3 years: Any portion of the withdrawal repaid within the three-year period is not taxable.
  • Repayment after 3 years: Any remaining balance after the three-year period is subject to income tax, but not the 10% early withdrawal penalty.
  • Qualified expenses: If the CARES Act withdrawal was used for qualified expenses related to COVID-19, such as medical expenses or unemployment, the repayment may reduce your taxable income.

Repayment Methods

You can repay your CARES Act 401(k) withdrawal directly to your 401(k) plan. The following methods are generally accepted:

  • Direct transfer from a personal checking or savings account.
  • Payroll deduction, if offered by your employer.
  • Check or money order made payable to the plan administrator.

Timeline for Repayment

The three-year repayment period begins from the date the withdrawal was made. The deadline to repay the full amount is the tax filing deadline of the third year after the year of withdrawal.

Year of WithdrawalRepayment Deadline
2020April 15, 2024
2021April 15, 2025

Repaying Cares Act 401k Withdrawals

The CARES Act, passed in 2020, allowed individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to withdraw up to $100,000 from their 401k accounts penalty-free. However, these withdrawals must be repaid within three years to avoid penalties.

Penalties for Late Repayment

  • Late repayment of the withdrawal amount will result in a 10% penalty tax.
  • Additionally, the repaid amount will be included in your taxable income for the year in which it is repaid, potentially increasing your tax liability.

Repayment Options

You have three options for repaying your CARES Act 401k withdrawal:

  1. Rollover to Another Retirement Account: You can roll the withdrawn funds into another retirement account, such as an IRA or a new 401k plan. This is the most tax-advantaged option, as the funds will continue to grow tax-deferred.
  2. Lump-Sum Repayment: You can repay the entire withdrawn amount in a single payment. This is the simplest option, but it may have tax implications if the amount is significant.
  3. Installment Payments: You can make installment payments over the three-year repayment period. This is a more flexible option, but it may take longer to repay the full amount.

Repayment Deadline

The deadline for repaying CARES Act 401k withdrawals is three years from the date of withdrawal, which is typically the date the funds were deposited into your account.

Table Summary

Repayment OptionTax ImplicationsFlexibility
Lump-SumMay be significantHighest
InstallmentsMay be significant over timeMost flexible

Spousal Contributions

If you made contributions to your spouse’s 401(k) during the suspension period, those contributions are not eligible for repayment.


If you rolled over funds from another retirement account into your 401(k) during the suspension period, those funds are not eligible for repayment. However, if you rolled over funds from your 401(k) to another retirement account during the suspension period, you may be able to roll those funds back into your 401(k) and repay the withdrawal.

Type of TransactionEligibility for Repayment
Contributions to your own 401(k)Eligible
Contributions to your spouse’s 401(k)Not eligible
Rollover from another retirement accountNot eligible
Rollover from your 401(k) to another retirement accountMay be eligible

Alright folks, that’s a wrap on our guide to repaying your CARES Act 401(k) withdrawal. Thanks for hanging out with me today. I hope I’ve made this process a little less daunting for you. Remember, it’s never too late to start making those repayments. So, get crackin’ and get those funds back in your retirement account ASAP. And hey, don’t be a stranger! Come back and visit again soon for more financial wisdom and retirement planning tips. Until next time, keep calm and invest on!