When are My IRA Withdrawals Penalty Free?

The surest way to make tax-free withdrawals is to wait until you are older than 59½, but there are a few other ways.

If you are 59½ or older, you can make penalty-free withdrawals.

Of course, you will need to pay income taxes on the amount you withdraw from your Traditional IRA. There is a 10% penalty assessed by the IRS on early withdrawals (withdrawals made before age 59½) and these are generally not a good idea.

Early withdrawals for certain things will not incur the early withdrawal penalty; these things include college educational expenses, first-time homebuyers down-payments up to $10,000, health insurance premiums during unemployment, medical expenses over a certain percentage of income, and a few others.

Many people withdraw money from retirement accounts for the wrong reasons, such as paying off debts instead of finding a manageable debt consolidation plan. Suppose you wanted to withdraw money from your Traditional IRA to pay off debt.

If you are under age 59½, you will pay a 10% penalty fee as well as regular income taxes on the amount you withdraw.

Your attempt to get rid of debt through early withdrawals may result in more harm than good.