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August 2, 2023

Should my employer refund taxes withheld from my 401(k) distribution?


Should my employer refund taxes withheld from my 401(k) distribution?

Should my employer refund taxes withheld from my 401(k) distribution? I requested a distribution of $100,000 from my 401(k) account, and had the amount paid to me. My employer withheld 20% for federal taxes, so I received only $80,000. I want to rollover the entire $100,000 to my traditional IRA. Should my employer refund the amount that was withheld for taxes to me?

Rollover from 401(k) to IRA

No. Generally, when rollover eligible amounts are distributed from a qualified plan-such as a 401(k) plan, 403(b) or eligible governmental 457(b) plan to the plan participant, the payer ( plan sponsor ) is required to withhold 20% for federal income tax, and if applicable, any state withholding tax.

The amount that was withheld should be remitted to the IRS as an advance payment of taxes on your behalf.

If you want to rollover the entire distribution amount of $100,000, you will need to make up for the amount withheld for taxes out of pocket.

Alternatively, you may rollover only the $80,000 and treat the $20,000 as a regular distribution, which would then be treated as ordinary income on your tax return.  If you were under age 59 ½ when the distribution occurred, you will owe the IRS an early distribution penalty of 10% on any taxable portion that was not rolled over, unless an exception applies. The withheld taxes will either increase your federal tax refund or reduce federal taxes that you owe for the year.

Generally, the rollover must be completed within 60 days of you receiving the distribution. The amount that is timely rolled over will be tax and penalty free.

For future reference: If you do not want to have taxes withheld from your 401() distribution, you should request the amount as a direct rollover to your IRA or other eligible retirement plan.


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