Is There a Penalty to Withdraw From 401k

Withdrawing money from a 401k before you reach the age of 59½ typically incurs a 10% early withdrawal fee. This fee is on top of any taxes that may be due on the withdrawn amount. In some cases, there may be an exception to the early withdrawal fee, such as if you are withdrawing money to pay for medical emergencies, higher education costs, or a first-time home purchase.

Early Withdrawal Penalty

Withdrawing money from your 401(k) account before reaching age 59½ can trigger a 10% early withdrawal penalty. This penalty is imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and must be paid in addition to any income tax due.

  • The penalty applies to withdrawals from traditional 401(k) accounts, Roth 401(k) accounts, and SIMPLE 401(k) accounts.
  • The penalty is not applicable if you meet certain exceptions, such as using the money for qualified educational expenses, medical expenses, or a first-time home purchase.
Exceptions to the Early Withdrawal Penalty
Medical expensesExpenses must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI)
First-time home purchaseYou must be a first-time homebuyer and the withdrawal must be used for qualified expenses
Qualified educational expensesThe withdrawal must be used to pay qualified educational expenses of yourself, your spouse, children, or grandchildren.
Birth or adoption of a childThe withdrawal must be used to pay for expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child
DisabilityYou must be permanently and totally disabled.

It is important to note that the early withdrawal penalty is not a tax. It is a penalty that is added to the amount of tax you owe. If you withdraw $10,000 from your 401(k) account before age 59½, you will be subject to a $1,000 early withdrawal penalty. This penalty is in addition to any income tax you may owe on the $10,000. Additionally, if you withdraw funds within the first five years of having an account, you may also face a 10% penalty from your brokerage firm.

Tax Implications of Withdrawals

  • Early Withdrawals: Withdrawals made before age 59½ are subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty, in addition to income taxes on the withdrawn amount.
  • Exceptions: There are certain exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty, including:
    • Medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of adjusted gross income
    • Disability
    • First-time home purchase (up to $10,000)
    • Certain higher education expenses
    • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Minimum Required Distributions (MRDs): Once you reach age 72 (73 starting in 2023), you are required to take minimum withdrawals from your 401(k) account. Failure to do so may result in a 50% penalty on the amount that should have been withdrawn.
Withdrawal TypeTax Implications
Regular Withdrawals (after age 59½)Income taxes only
Early Withdrawals (under age 59½)10% early withdrawal penalty + income taxes
Withdrawals for ExceptionsIncome taxes only (no penalty)
Minimum Required Distributions (MRDs)Income taxes only (no penalty)

Exceptions to Withdrawal Penalties

There are several exceptions to the 10% early withdrawal penalty for 401(k) withdrawals. These exceptions include:

  • Withdrawals after age 59½
  • Withdrawals due to disability
  • Withdrawals to cover certain medical expenses
  • Withdrawals to pay for higher education expenses
  • Withdrawals to buy a first home
  • Withdrawals to cover the costs of a military deployment
  • Withdrawals due to a qualified natural disaster

Note: You may need to provide documentation to your 401(k) provider to prove that you qualify for an exception to the early withdrawal penalty.

401(k) Withdrawal Penalties
Withdrawal AgePenalty
Under 59½10%
59½ or older0%

Financial Consequences of Early Withdrawals

Withdrawing funds from your 401(k) before you reach age 59½ can trigger significant financial penalties. These consequences include:

Income Tax

  • The amount you withdraw is taxed as ordinary income.
  • The tax rate is based on your current income tax bracket.

10% Early Withdrawal Penalty

Unless an exception applies, you will also pay a 10% penalty on the amount withdrawn. The penalty is in addition to the income tax.

Loss of Potential Growth

Withdrawing from your 401(k) early means you lose out on potential investment growth. You will have less money available in the future.


AgeAmount WithdrawnIncome TaxEarly Withdrawal Penalty

Welp, there you have it—all the deets on 401(k) withdrawals and the possible penalties involved. Remember, it’s not always ideal to dip into your retirement stash, but if you absolutely have to, just be ready to face some consequences. Thanks for hanging out with us today! If you ever have any more retirement-related questions, don’t hesitate to drop by again—we’re always here to lend a virtual hand.