Individual Tax Strategies

Individual Tax Strategies- You and Your IRA

 

It’s often difficult for young and middle-age tax payers to come up with a down payment on a house. However, if you or your kids have found a home they wish to purchase, you may have to think outside of the box, if you don’t have sufficient funds to place as a down payment on the home..

The article below discuses the utilization of your IRA to purchase a home and whether or not you may qualify.

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Can You Tap Into your IRA to Buy a Home?

“The Strategy: Consider an IRA as a secondary source of funds. Although IRA’s are intended for retirement savings, tapping into your account might made sense if it helps to close the deal.

The main advantage of using an IRA is that the distribution may be exempt from the usual tax penalty for early withdrawals.

Here’s the whole story: Normally, if you receive a distribution from an IRA prior to age 59 1/2, you must pay a 10% tax penalty, in addition to the regular income tax you owe. the 10% penalty is assessed on the taxable portion of the distribution (ie, the pro rata amount representing deductible contributions and earnings)

however, there are several key exceptions to this rule, including one for the first $10,000 of funds received by first-time home buyers. The definition of a “first-time home buyer” for this purpose is quite broad. It includes an individual who hasn’t owned a home as his or her principal residence for the past two years.

Also, note that the IRA participant doesn’t necessarily have to be the home buyer. For instance, if the situation dictates, you can use IRA funds to help purchase a home for your children, your grandchildren or your parents. But the distribution is still taxable in your top tax bracket.

Qualifying for Home buyers Exception

To qualify for the home buyers exception, you must meet the following three requirements:

1) The distribution must be used to pay qualified acquisition costs within 120 days after the day you received it.

2) The distribution must be used to pay qualified expenses for the principal residence of the first-time home buyer. Qualified expenses include acquisition costs (e.g. down payment), the cost of building or rebuilding the home and any usual or reasonable settlement, financing ro closing costs.

3) You can’t have withdrawn $10,000 previously for a first-time home purchase. (the $10,000 limit for this exception is a lifetime cap).

If both you and your spouse are first-time home buyers, each of you may receive life-time IRA distributions of up to $10,000 without paying the 10% penalty tax, as long as the distributions come from separate IRAs.

Can you take distributions from a Roth IRA instead of a traditional IRA?

Yes, but be aware that the rules for Roths are slightly different than the rules for traditional IRAs.

For starters, you can take qualified distributions from a Roth in existence at least five years completely free of income tax and the penalty tax for early withdrawals. This includes distributions made after age 591/2, those made on account of death or disability and qualified first-time home buyer expenses (up to the lifetime limit of $10m000). And, to the extent that the distribution from a Roth is taxable, it is governed by special “ordering rules.”

Under the ordering rules, distributions are treated as coming first from contributions, which are not subject to regular income tax or penalties. next are conversion funds, which are also exempt if they have been in the Roth for five years. Finally, distributions are treated as coming last fromtaxable earnings.

Therefore, the only funds distributed from a Roth IRA that would present a problem would be either earnings or conversion money that has been in the Roth for less than five years.

This provides Roth distributions with an advantage over distributions from traditional IRAs. But remember that the money you withdraw from a Roth will erode the tax-free nest egg you’ve worked hard to build up.

For more information about the IRA distribution rules, see IRS Pub.590, Individual Retirement Arrangements at www.irs.gov/publications/p590/ch01.html

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