Newsletters

Guidance Provided on Early Retirement Distributions for Emergencies and Domestic Abuse Victims, Notice 2024-55; IR-2024-170

The IRS has provided guidance on two exceptions to the 10 percent additional tax under Code Sec. 72(t)(1) for emergency personal expense distributions and domestic abuse victim distributions. These exceptions were added by the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022, P.L. 117-328, and became effective January 1, 2024. The Treasury Department and the IRS anticipate issuing regulations under Code Sec. 72(t) and request comments to be submitted on or before October 7, 2024.

Distributions for Emergency Personal Expenses

Code Sec. 72(t)(2)(I) provides an exception to the 10 percent additional tax for a distribution from an applicable eligible retirement plan to an individual for emergency personal expenses. The term emergency personal expense distribution means any distribution made from an applicable eligible retirement plan to an individual for purposes of meeting unforeseeable or immediate financial needs relating to necessary personal or family emergency expenses. The IRS specifically noted that emergency expenses could be related to: medical care; accident or loss of property due to casualty; imminent foreclosure or eviction from a primary residence; the need to pay for burial or funeral expenses; auto repairs; or any other necessary emergency personal expenses.

The IRS provides that a plan administrator or IRA custodian may rely on a written certification from the employee or IRA owner that they are eligible for an emergency personal expense distribution. Furthermore, the IRS provides that an emergency personal expense distribution is not treated as a rollover distribution and thus is not subject to mandatory 20% withholding. However, the distribution is subject to withholding, the IRS said. If the emergency personal expense distribution is repaid, it is treated as if the individual received the distribution and transferred it to an eligible retirement plan within 60 days of distribution.

If an otherwise eligible retirement plan does not offer emergency personal expense distributions, the IRS indicated that an individual may still take an otherwise permissible distribution and treat it as such on their federal income tax return. The individual claims on Form 5329 that the distribution is an emergency personal expense distribution, in accordance with the form’s instructions. The individual has the option to repay the distribution to an IRA within 3 years.

Distributions to Domestic Abuse Victims

Code Sec. 72(t)(2)(K) provides an exception to the 10 percent additional tax for an eligible distribution to a domestic abuse victim (domestic abuse victim distribution). The guidance defines adomesticabusevictimdistribution as any distribution from an applicable eligible retirement plan to a domestic abuse victim if made during the 1-year period beginning on any date on which the individual is a victim of domestic abuse by a spouse or domestic partner. Domesticabuse is defined as physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, or economic abuse, including efforts to control, isolate, humiliate, or intimidate the victim, or to undermine the victim’s ability to reason independently, including by means of abuse of the victim’s child or another family member living in the household.

As with distributions for emergency personal expenses, a retirement plan may rely on an employee’s written certification that they qualify for a domestic abuse victim distribution. Similarly, if an otherwise eligible retirement plan does not offer domestic abuse victim distributions, the IRS indicated that an individual may still take an otherwise permissible distribution and treat it as such on their federal income tax return. The individual claims on Form 5329 that the distribution is a domestic abuse victim distribution, in accordance with the form’s instructions. The individual has the option to repay the distribution to an IRA within 3 years.

Request for Comments

The Treasury Department and the IRS invite comments on the guidance, and specifically on whether the Secretary should adopt regulations providing exceptions to the rule that a plan administrator may rely on an employee’s certification relating to emergency personal expense distributions and procedures to address cases of employee misrepresentation. Comments should be submitted in writing on or before October 7, 2024, and should include a reference to Notice 2024-55.

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