The Senate’s $2 trillion coronavirus-relief bill that passed on March 25 includes benefits for Americans whose retirement accounts have been battered by the stock-market meltdown.
Hardship distributions from IRAs and 401(k)s
“Hardship withdrawals” of up to $100,000 are available. The withdrawals would still be taxable, but account owners can pay the income tax due on the withdrawal over three years, rather than in the first year. Those under age 59 ½ would be exempt from the 10% penalty that normally applies.
Alternatively, one can elect to put the money back into a 401(k)-type plan or an IRA within three years, and skip the tax payments, even if the amount they want to redeposit exceeds the annual contribution limit, which is currently $6,000 for an IRA (or $7,000 for those 50 or older) and $19,500 for a 401(k) (or $26,000 for those 50 or older.)
To qualify for the hardship distribution, the account owner or his or her spouse or dependent must have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or lost income due to a layoff, business closure, quarantine, reduction in hours, or inability to work due to a lack of child care.
Loans from 401(k)s and similar plans
The bill doubles the amount 401(k) participants who have been diagnosed with the virus or affected by economic losses can take in loans for the next six months from a retirement account to the lower of $100,000 or 100% of the account balance. (IRAs don’t permit loans.)
People with 401(k) loans—new or existing—can delay any repayment due in 2020 for a year. That extends the repayment deadline for these loans by a year.
Required minimum distributions from 401(k)s and IRAs
No minimum distributions are required this year! This also applies to inherited 401(k)s and IRAs.
IRA owners who were new to taking required distributions in 2019 and elected to delay their first distribution until April 1, 2020 don’t have to take that withdrawal either.