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.
There is also a maximum 401(k) contribution limit that applies to all employee and employer 401(k) contributions in a calendar year. This limit is the section 415 limit, which is the lesser of 100% of the employee's total pre-tax compensation or $56,000 for 2019, or $57,000 in 2020.[28][27] For employees over 50, the catch-up contribution limit is also added to the section 415 limit.
These loans have been described[by whom?] as tax-disadvantaged, on the theory that the 401(k) contains before-tax dollars, but the loan is repaid with after-tax dollars. While this is precisely correct, the analysis is fundamentally flawed with regard to the loan principal amounts. From your perspective as the borrower, this is identical to a standard loan where you are not taxed when you get the loan, but you have to pay it back with taxed dollars. However, the interest portion of the loan repayments, which are essentially additional contributions to the 401(k), are made with after-tax funds but they do not increase the after-tax basis in the 401(k). Therefore, upon distribution/conversion of those funds the owner will have to pay taxes on those funds a second time.[14]

After you receive the funds from your IRA, you also have a strict 60 days (and not two months) to complete the rollover to another IRA. If you do not complete the rollover within the time allowed—or do not receive a waiver or extension of the 60-day period from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—the amount will be treated as ordinary income by the IRS. That means you must include the amount as income on your tax return, and any taxable amounts will be taxed at your current, ordinary income tax rate. Plus, if you were not 59.5 years old when the distribution occurred, you'll face a 10% penalty on the withdrawal. (For more, see: Exceptions to the 60-Day Retirement Account Rollover Rule.)


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.

In a direct transfer, account holders who want to move money work through their new provider rather than the old one. When setting up their new account, they have the new custodian initiate a transfer request, which moves the account directly from the old custodian. Using a direct transfer, the old custodian doesn’t always even have to sell all the investments within an account — they can sometimes transfer the account with the current portfolio intact.
All funds for an IRA rollover must be transferred to the new custodian within 60 days of when the check is issued by the previous custodian. If your rollover isn’t completed in that time, the funds will be treated as a distribution that’s taxable as ordinary income. If you are age 59 1/2 or younger and ineligible for IRA withdrawals, you will also be assessed a 10 percent early distribution penalty.
In the United States, a 401(k) plan is the tax-qualified, defined-contribution pension account defined in subsection 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code.[1] Under the plan, retirement savings contributions are provided (and sometimes proportionately matched) by an employer, deducted from the employee's paycheck before taxation (therefore tax-deferred until withdrawn after retirement or as otherwise permitted by applicable law), and limited to a maximum pre-tax annual contribution of $19,500 (as of 2020).[2][3]
There are subtle differences between what is considered an IRA rollover, and what is considered an IRA transfer. The important thing to know - with either one for the rollover to be tax-free, the funds must be deposited in the new account no later than 60 days from the time they were withdrawn from the old one (unless it's a trustee-to-trustee transfer, as discussed in more detail below).
These loans have been described[by whom?] as tax-disadvantaged, on the theory that the 401(k) contains before-tax dollars, but the loan is repaid with after-tax dollars. While this is precisely correct, the analysis is fundamentally flawed with regard to the loan principal amounts. From your perspective as the borrower, this is identical to a standard loan where you are not taxed when you get the loan, but you have to pay it back with taxed dollars. However, the interest portion of the loan repayments, which are essentially additional contributions to the 401(k), are made with after-tax funds but they do not increase the after-tax basis in the 401(k). Therefore, upon distribution/conversion of those funds the owner will have to pay taxes on those funds a second time.[14]
Once an IRA rollover is completed, however, the resulting account is very similar to a traditional IRA. They can utilize the same investment options and providers with the same contribution limits and eligibility requirements. While rollover IRAs have unique rules for setup, the rules and deadlines that apply after an account are established are the same as traditional IRAs.
Account owners must begin making distributions from their accounts by April 1 of the calendar year after turning age 70 1/2 or April 1 of the calendar year after retiring, whichever is later.[15] The amount of distributions is based on life expectancy according to the relevant factors from the appropriate IRS tables.[16] For individuals who attain age 70 1/2 after December 31, 2019, distributions are required by April 1 of the calendar year after turning age 72 or April 1 of the calendar year after retiring, whichever is later.[17]
There is also a maximum 401(k) contribution limit that applies to all employee and employer 401(k) contributions in a calendar year. This limit is the section 415 limit, which is the lesser of 100% of the employee's total pre-tax compensation or $56,000 for 2019, or $57,000 in 2020.[28][27] For employees over 50, the catch-up contribution limit is also added to the section 415 limit.
The purpose of a rollover is to maintain the tax-deferred status of those assets. Rollover IRAs are commonly used to hold 401(k), 403(b) or profit-sharing plan assets that are transferred from a former employer's sponsored retirement account or qualified plan. Rollover IRA funds can be moved to a new employer's retirement plan. Rollover IRAs do not cap the amount of money an employee can roll over and they permit account holders to invest in a wide array of assets such as stocks, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds.
If you withdraw funds from an IRA, and then subsequently redeposit them to your IRA within 60 days, the transaction would not be taxed. You can only do this type of IRA transfer once in any 12 month time period. This one-per-year provision does not apply to trustee-to-trustee transfers where the money is sent directly from one institution to another.
Some plans also have a profit-sharing provision where employers make additional contributions to the account and may or may not require matching contributions by the employee. These additional contributions may or may not require a matching employee contribution to earn them.[30][31] As with the matching funds, these contributions are also made on a pre-tax basis.
You should contact your financial or tax advisor to determine if a donor advised fund (DAF) is appropriate for you. They may also be able to advise you on reputable sponsoring organizations. Once you determine the organization with which you will establish a fund, typically you only need to complete a few forms and transfer assets. You will want to determine if the fees and grant policies of the sponsoring organization suit your goals.
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