If you find yourself in a financial pinch, you may be considering the question, “can you borrow from your IRA?” Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is no; it’s either impossible or impractical to get a loan against your IRA. But, the good news is there are a few other tactics you can deploy when you really need cash and you want to leverage the money you’ve been so diligently saving for retirement. Keep reading to learn more about what they are and whether or not you should use them.
Can you borrow from your IRA?
While the answer is technically “no,” it doesn’t mean you are completely out of luck when you need money from a traditional or Roth IRA account if you find yourself in a cash emergency. Here are the stipulations:
- Since IRA accounts were specifically made for retirement savings, lawmakers have constructed strict laws about withdrawing funds. If you don’t follow the rules to a tee, you risk a hefty 10% penalty and income tax bill.
- When you take money from an IRA account pre-retirement, you’re sacrificing the gains the investments would have earned if you left the money in the account. In turn, this compromises a comfortable retirement. So, you need to make sure withdrawing the cash is necessary and worthy of such a big sacrifice.
- If you’re over the age of 59.5 and you’ve had your Roth IRA for at least five years, you can take money out of the account without any questions or penalties.
- Even if you’re not 59.5, if you qualify for an exception, you’ll be able to withdraw funds sans penalty.
If you can replace the funds within 60 days, you’re eligible for a 60-day rollover. As long as you roll the money over within 60 days, the IRS will let you roll money from one IRA to another. But, there are two significant stipulations within this stipulation:
- Your IRA provider can withhold 10% of your IRA funds for taxes—unless you instruct them not to. When you put the money back in the account, you have to make sure it’s the original balance’s full amount, plus the withheld 10%. Otherwise, you’ll get hit with a tax bill and an early distribution penalty for the withheld portion.
- You have to get the money back into an IRA account within 60 days, or you risk the 10% penalty and taxes.
For the above-mentioned reason, you should explore all other options before borrowing from your IRA account, including low or 0% interest credit cards, personal loans, peer-to-peer loans, and other forms of investments.
Borrowing from a 401(k)
If you’ve ruled out borrowing from your IRA account because you don’t meet the above requirements, or the risk doesn’t seem worth it, you also have the option to borrow from a 401(k) account—assuming you have one. But, this decision will ultimately be up to your employer that sponsors the account. So, you need to contact your plan administrator before proceeding.
You’ll also need to pay back this loan, or it will be counted as a plan distribution, meaning you’ll get hit with a penalty and taxes. If you’re planning to leave your job in the near future, this isn’t a good choice for you because you’ll need to get the full amount into an IRA or other retirement plan by the next tax filing deadline. If you don’t, you may receive an income tax bill.
It’s important to take some time to think about the pros and cons of dipping into your retirement savings early. This money can be a source of income that you rely on in retirement. So, an early dip that jeopardizes your retirement goal may have you regretting your choice later.
Why can’t I borrow from my IRA account?
Simply put, the government restrictions surrounding IRA withdrawals are in place to protect your future. IRAs were created to help people save money for retirement and gain tax advantages. Once you withdraw those funds early, you lose those tax advantages, even if you plan to replace them later.
Can I use my IRA funds for a short-term loan?
Although borrowing from your IRA account is not considered a loan, you can use the 60-day rollover stipulation once per year to withdraw funds from your IRA. Remember that you must replace the money within 60 days to avoid penalties and taxes.
Should I borrow from my IRA or 401(k) account?
If you really need to borrow money ASAP and your retirement account(s) are the only option, you can use your 401(k) to do so. But, it’s important to remember the IRS has strict rules and guidelines in terms of how much you can borrow and when you need to repay it. So, it’s important to check all plan details and have a discussion with the plan administrator before proceeding.