How Much Tax Do I Pay on an IRA Withdrawal After Retirement?

Traditional and Roth IRA accounts each have their own set of withdrawal rules and penalties, with first-time home purchases, medical expenses that cannot be reimbursed, disability expenses and qualified reservist distributions often qualifying as acceptable reasons to access funds before age 59 1/2. You may qualify for an exception under IRS-approved circumstances – for instance a first home purchase, unreimbursed medical costs or disability related needs being exceptions that allow early withdrawal.


As retirement approaches, your savings in an IRA become less of an essential source of income. Yet you should continue making contributions; any withdrawals prior to age 59 1/2 come with a 10% penalty tax unless exempted under one of several exceptions.

Withdrawals from traditional or Roth IRAs are considered ordinary income when you withdraw them and taxed at your nominal tax rate; which could be higher than what was paid when contributing. Once retirement age has been reached, however, withdrawals must adhere to any required minimum distribution (RMD) limits that might exist.

The IRS allows you to withdraw money from your IRA penalty-free if it’s used for certain expenses, including unreimbursed medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of adjusted gross income, first-time home purchases and emergency personal expenses such as divorce settlement or job loss. Furthermore, funds in an IRA may also be used towards paying for adoption fees or to purchase baby supplies.


As a general rule, any withdrawal of money from a retirement account before age 59 1/2 incurs a 10% penalty tax (unless exceptions exist), in addition to income taxes on these withdrawals.

The primary exceptions to this rule involve death or qualifying disability. You may also use your IRA without incurring penalties to cover unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income; furthermore, an unemployed family member or yourself can use their IRA account to purchase health insurance premiums and purchase coverage through it.

One key exception to the rules of retirement accounts is your right to transfer an IRA into another qualified retirement account without incurring penalties, provided this occurs within 60 days. Furthermore, each year your required minimum distributions (RMDs) should be calculated using the IRS Uniform Lifetime Table.


Although withdrawals from an IRA after retirement are usually taxed, there are exceptions. These include traditional IRA withdrawals made prior to turning age 59 1/2; distributions from a qualified plan or rollovers from employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) or profit-sharing plans; as well as funds being taken out without penalty in cases such as first time home purchases, college costs, unreimbursed medical costs or unemployment compensation payments.

One exception to this is taking substantially equal periodic payments from your IRA for five years or until reaching age 59 1/2, whichever comes later; any changes after reaching this age will incur a 10% penalty plus interest. A third exception includes using your IRA funds for legal adoption costs or childbirth and adoption. Furthermore, victims of federally declared disasters may withdraw funds tax-free without penalty.


Traditional IRA contributions are made using pretax dollars and earnings grow tax-deferred. When withdrawing funds, however, they’re subject to tax at your regular income rate (unless an exception exists).

Withdrawal rules vary based on both your age and purpose of withdrawal. For instance, first-time homebuyers can access their IRA funds without incurring penalties to fund their purchase of their first house. You may also withdraw without penalty to cover unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income or financial emergencies such as long-term unemployment expenses or down payments on new houses.

At a certain age, mandatory minimum distributions from your IRA are mandatory; however, you can reduce taxes owed by spreading payments out over lower-earning years with help from an advisor. There are various methods used by the IRS for calculating required minimum distributions; your exact withdrawal amount will change from year to year.

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