“A direct transfer going from your 401(k) to your IRA is the best and easiest option. You can get a check and then use the 60-day period to put the money into a qualified account but use caution. Some states require a tax to be withheld. You can only do one rollover per year when doing it this way. Most plans allow a direct transfer at age 59 1/2 even if you are still working, which can allow you to move the bulk of your retirement dollars to an IRA and still contribute to a 401(k).” — Mark Henry, CEO, Alloy Wealth Management
America’s 401(k) is a subsidiary of Group RHI, a leader in the retirement services industry. Group RHI’s companies serve businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities throughout the country, providing objective advice on 401(k) design and services, retirement plan consulting, and pension outsourcing. Collectively we serve close to 5,000 organizations, handling diverse retirement plan needs for hundreds of thousands of participants. For more information about Group RHI and its operations, visit www.grouprhi.com.
An indirect rollover allows for the transferring of assets from a tax-deferred 401(k) plan to a traditional IRA. With this method, the funds are given to the employee via check to be deposited into their own personal account. With an indirect rollover, it is up to the employee to redeposit the funds into the new IRA within the allotted 60 day period to avoid penalty.
Another item to be aware of with rollover IRA contributions is that this may restrict your ability to move your account in the future. If, for example, you do a 401(k) rollover to IRA and later contribute to that rollover IRA, you won’t be able to roll your IRA back into a 401(k) at some point in the future. This is covered further in the 401(k) Rollover to IRA section below.
Employees who are eligible for a rollover IRA can do one rollover in a 12-month period — no matter how many IRAs or 401(k) accounts they have. According to IRA rollover rules, completing a rollover is a simple process. There are two ways to do a rollover — a direct transfer between custodians or by having your current custodian send you a check and completing the rollover yourself within 60 days.
If you have not elected a direct rollover, in the case of a distribution from a retirement plan, or you have not elected out of withholding in the case of a distribution from an IRA, your plan administrator or IRA trustee will withhold taxes from your distribution. If you later roll the distribution over within 60 days, you must use other funds to make up for the amount withheld.
If the employee made after-tax contributions to the non-Roth 401(k) account, these amounts are commingled with the pre-tax funds and simply add to the non-Roth 401(k) basis. When distributions are made the taxable portion of the distribution will be calculated as the ratio of the non-Roth contributions to the total 401(k) basis. The remainder of the distribution is tax-free and not included in gross income for the year.
In the early 1970s, a group of high-earning individuals from Kodak approached Congress to allow a part of their salary to be invested in the stock market and thus be exempt from income taxes. This resulted in section 401(k) being inserted in the then-current taxation regulations that allowed this to be done. The section of the Internal Revenue Code that made such 401(k) plans possible was enacted into law in 1978. It was intended to allow taxpayers a break on taxes on deferred income. In 1980, a benefits consultant and attorney named Ted Benna took note of the previously obscure provision and figured out that it could be used to create a simple, tax-advantaged way to save for retirement. The client for whom he was working at the time chose not to create a 401(k) plan. He later went on to install the first 401(k) plan at his own employer, the Johnson Companies (today doing business as Johnson Kendall & Johnson). At the time, employees could contribute 25% of their salary, up to $30,000 per year, to their employer's 401(k) plan.
“The ability to rollover retirement assets can lead to a simpler retirement strategy with more control over investment choices. If an individual has had multiple employers throughout their working career, he or she most likely have multiple retirement accounts. It can become easy to lose track of those accounts. Rolling those accounts over to another IRA or potentially even a Roth IRA can drastically simplify an overall portfolio. While funds are in a 401(k)/403(b), investment options are limited to what the company has approved. Once a rollover is completed, a client has access to a much larger pool of investment options.” — Ben Koval, Financial Planner, Decker Retirement Planning