Can the IRS waive the 60-day IRA rollover deadline?
Provided By: Duane J. Silbernagel
If you take a distribution from your IRA intending to make a 60-day rollover, but for some reason the funds don’t get to the new IRA trustee in time, the tax impact can be significant. In general, the rollover is invalid, the distribution becomes a taxable event, and you’re treated as having made a regular, instead of a rollover, contribution to the new IRA. But all may not be lost. The 60-day requirement is automatically waived if all of the following apply:
• A financial institution actually receives the funds within the 60-day rollover period.
• You followed the financial institution’s procedures for depositing funds into an IRA within the 60-day period.
• The funds are not deposited in an IRA within the 60-day rollover period solely because of an error on the part of the financial institution.
• The funds are deposited within one year from the beginning of the 60-day rollover period.
• The rollover would have been valid if the financial institution had deposited the funds as instructed.
If you don’t qualify for this limited automatic waiver, the IRS can waive the 60-day requirement “where failure to do so would be against equity or good conscience,” such as a casualty, disaster, or other event beyond your reasonable control. However, you’ll need to request a private letter ruling from the IRS, an expensive proposition — the filing fee alone is currently $10,000.
Thankfully, the IRS has just introduced a third way to seek a waiver of the 60-day requirement: self-certification. Under the new procedure, if you’ve missed the 60-day rollover deadline, you can simply send a letter to the plan administrator or IRA trustee/custodian certifying that you missed the 60-day deadline due to one of 11 specified reasons. To qualify, you must generally make your rollover contribution to the employer plan or IRA within 30 days after you’re no longer prevented from doing so. Also, there is no IRS fee.
The downside of self-certification is that if you’re subsequently audited, the IRS can still review whether your contribution met the requirements for a waiver. For this reason, some taxpayers may still prefer the certainty of a private letter ruling from the IRS.
What’s the difference between a direct and indirect rollover?
If you’re eligible to receive a taxable distribution from an employer-sponsored retirement plan [like a 401(k)], you can avoid current taxation by instructing your employer to roll the distribution directly over to another employer plan or IRA. With a direct rollover, you never actually receive the funds.
You can also avoid current taxation by actually receiving the distribution from the plan and then rolling it over to another employer plan or IRA within 60 days following receipt. This is called a “60-day” or “indirect” rollover.
But if you choose to receive the funds rather than making a direct rollover, your plan is required to withhold 20% of the taxable portion of your distribution (you’ll get credit for the amount withheld when you file your federal tax return). This is true even if you intend to make a 60-day rollover. You can still roll over the entire amount of your distribution, but you’ll need to make up the 20% that was withheld using other assets.
For example, if your taxable distribution from the plan is $10,000, the plan will withhold $2,000 and you’ll receive a check for $8,000. You can still roll $10,000 over to an IRA or another employer plan, but you’ll need to come up with that $2,000 from your other funds.
Similarly, if you’re eligible to receive a taxable distribution from an IRA, you can avoid current taxation by either transferring the funds directly to another IRA or to an employer plan that accepts rollovers (sometimes called a “trustee-to-trustee transfer”), or by taking the distribution and making a 60-day indirect rollover (20% withholding doesn’t apply to IRA distributions).
Under recently revised IRS rules, you can make only one tax-free, 60-day, rollover from any IRA you own (traditional or Roth) to any other IRA you own in any 12-month period. However, this limit does not apply to direct rollovers or trustee-to-trustee transfers.
Because of the 20% withholding rule, the one-rollover-per-year rule, and the possibility of missing the 60-day deadline, in almost all cases you’re better off making a direct rollover to move your retirement plan funds from one account to another.
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This article is meant to be general in nature and should not be construed as investment or financial advice related to your personal situation. Waddell & Reed does not provide legal or tax advice. This information is prepared by an independent third party, Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Waddell & Reed believes the information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. This information is not meant to be a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making financial or investment decisions and does not constitute a recommendation. Please consult with a tax professional regarding your personal situation prior to making any financial related decisions. Also note that the information provided may include references to concepts that have legal, accounting and tax implications. It is not to be construed as legal, accounting or tax advice, and is provided as general information to you to assist in understanding the issues discussed. Neither Waddell & Reed, Inc., nor its Financial Advisors give tax, legal, or accounting advice. Nothing contained herein is intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any product or service mentioned and they may not be suitable for all investors.
Duane Silbernagel is a Financial Advisor in Lincoln City, Oregon offering securities through Waddell & Reed, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC. He can be reached at (541) 614-1322 or via email at DSilbernagel@wradvisors.com.
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