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Does the early distribution penalty apply to distributions from an inherited IRA?

Last Updated December 17, 2015

Question: 

An individual inherited an IRA from his father.  He is now twenty eight (28) years old. He wants to withdraw a portion of the inherited IRA balance to pay higher education expenses and to cover living expenses. Will he owe the 10% early distribution penalty since he is under age 59 ½?

Answer: 

A. Distributions from an inherited IRA are never subject to the 10% early distribution penalty, regardless of the purpose for which the distribution amounts are used. 

Please check with the IRA Custodian  to ensure that the account is properly registered as an inherited IRA, in the names of the decedent and the beneficiary, using the social security number/tax identification number of the beneficiary. One of the most common mistakes made with inherited IRAs is incorrect registration ( titling), which can cause complications for the account holder and other interested parties.

Question answered by by Denise Appleby