What Are the Tax Penalties for Withdrawing From a 401k

Withdrawing funds from a 401k before you reach retirement age can trigger tax penalties. The amount you withdraw is subject to income tax, and you may also have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty. This means that if you withdraw $10,000 from your 401k, you could owe up to $3,300 in taxes and penalties. There are some exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty, such as if you withdraw funds to pay for medical expenses or higher education. However, it’s generally best to avoid withdrawing funds from your 401k before retirement age if possible.

Tax Penalties for Withdrawing From a 401k

Withdrawing money from a 401k account before reaching age 59.5 may trigger tax penalties. These penalties can significantly reduce your retirement savings.

Early Withdrawal Penalty

Withdrawing from a 401k before age 59.5 incurs a 10% early withdrawal penalty, in addition to regular income tax.


  • Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (SEPPs): Regular withdrawals over the course of your life expectancy.
  • Medical Expenses: Withdrawals for qualified medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
  • Disability: Withdrawals if you become disabled and unable to work.
  • Death: Withdrawals for funeral expenses or by beneficiaries after the account holder’s death.

Tax Considerations

Amount WithdrawnIncome TaxEarly Withdrawal Penalty
$10,000$2,400 (24%)$1,000 (10%)
$25,000$6,000 (24%)$2,500 (10%)
$50,000$12,000 (24%)$5,000 (10%)

Taxable Income

When you withdraw money from a 401(k) account, the amount you withdraw is generally considered taxable income. This means that you will need to pay taxes on the money you withdraw, just as you would with any other type of income.

The amount of taxes you will pay on a 401(k) withdrawal will depend on your tax bracket and the amount you withdraw. However, you can generally expect to pay at least 10% in taxes, and you may pay more if you are in a higher tax bracket.

In addition to the federal income tax, you may also be required to pay state income tax on your 401(k) withdrawal. The amount of state income tax you will pay will depend on the state in which you reside.

What Is the Table Method?

When calculating the tax on your 401(k) withdrawal, you can choose to use either the table method or the worksheet method. The table method is generally easier to use, but it may not be as accurate as the worksheet method.

To use the table method, you will need to know your filing status, your taxable income, and the amount of your 401(k) withdrawal. You can then use the table below to find the amount of tax you owe.

Filing StatusTaxable IncomeTax on 401(k) Withdrawal
Single$0 – $9,95010%
Single$9,951 – $40,52512%
Single$40,526 – $86,37522%
Single$86,376 – $164,92524%
Single$164,926 – $209,42532%
Single$209,426 – $523,60035%
Single$523,601 and up37%
Married Filing Jointly$0 – $19,90010%
Married Filing Jointly$19,901 – $81,05012%
Married Filing Jointly$81,051 – $172,75022%
Married Filing Jointly$172,751 – $329,85024%
Married Filing Jointly$329,851 – $418,85032%
Married Filing Jointly$418,851 – $622,05035%
Married Filing Jointly$622,051 and up37%
Married Filing Separately$0 – $9,95010%
Married Filing Separately$9,951 – $40,52512%
Married Filing Separately$40,526 – $86,37522%
Married Filing Separately$86,376 – $164,92524%
Married Filing Separately$164,926 – $209,42532%
Married Filing Separately$209,426 – $311,02535%
Married Filing Separately$311,026 and up37%
Head of Household$0 – $14,20010%
Head of Household$14,201 – $54,20012%
Head of Household$54,201 – $86,35022%
Head of Household$86,351 – $164,90024%
Head of Household$164,901 – $209,40032%
Head of Household$209,401 – $523,60035%
Head of Household$523,601 and up37%

10% Additional Tax

One of the key tax penalties for withdrawing from a 401k before the age of 59½ is a 10% additional tax on the amount withdrawn. This tax is in addition to any ordinary income tax that may be due on the withdrawal.

The additional 10% tax is imposed because early withdrawals from a 401k are considered to be premature distributions. The IRS views these distributions as a violation of the intended purpose of the 401k, which is to provide retirement savings. As a result, the IRS imposes this additional penalty to discourage early withdrawals and encourage people to save for retirement.

The 10% additional tax is not applied to all withdrawals from a 401k. There are a number of exceptions to the rule, including:

  • Withdrawals made after the age of 59½
  • Withdrawals made due to disability
  • Withdrawals made to pay for medical expenses
  • Withdrawals made to pay for qualified education expenses

If you are considering withdrawing from your 401k before the age of 59½, it is important to be aware of the 10% additional tax that may be due. This tax can significantly reduce the amount of money you receive from your withdrawal.

Tax Penalties for Withdrawing From a 401k

Withdrawing funds from your 401k can have significant tax implications. Here’s an overview of the penalties you may incur:

Prohibited Transactions

Certain transactions, such as borrowing from your 401k or using it as collateral for a loan, are prohibited. These transactions can result in severe penalties, including the following:

  • Immediate inclusion of the withdrawn amount in your taxable income
  • Additional 10% early withdrawal penalty if you’re under age 59½
  • Possible disqualification of the plan, resulting in the loss of tax benefits

Early Withdrawals

If you withdraw funds from your 401k before age 59½, you’ll typically face an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty. This penalty applies to both qualified and non-qualified withdrawals.

Exceptions to Penalties

There are certain exceptions to the early withdrawal penalty, including:

  • Withdrawals after age 59½
  • Withdrawals for disability
  • Withdrawals for medical expenses
  • Withdrawals to pay for higher education expenses
  • Withdrawals from a Roth 401k

Taxes on Withdrawals

In addition to the early withdrawal penalty, you’ll also have to pay income tax on the amount you withdraw. The tax rate will depend on your marginal tax bracket.

Table of Penalties and Taxes

The table below summarizes the penalties and taxes you may incur for withdrawing from a 401k:

Withdrawal TypeAge at WithdrawalEarly Withdrawal PenaltyIncome Tax
QualifiedUnder 59½10%Marginal tax bracket
Qualified59½ or older0Marginal tax bracket
Non-qualifiedAny age10%Marginal tax bracket
RothAny age00

Alright folks, that’s all there is to it! The tax penalties for withdrawing from a 401k can be a real bummer, but hopefully, this article has shed some light on the situation. Remember, planning and understanding the potential consequences are key when it comes to your retirement savings.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this article. If you have any more money-related questions, feel free to swing by again later, I’ll be here, ready to dish out some more financial wisdom. Until then, stay savvy and keep that retirement nest egg growing!