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Understanding 401(k) loan repayment rules

Retirement Plans Financial Wellness

The conventional wisdom about taking a loan from your 401(k) plan is often boiled down to: not unless absolutely necessary. That said, it isn’t always avoidable for everyone or in every situation. In a true emergency, if you had no alternative, the rules do allow for a loan, but they also require a fast repayment if your employment were to end. Recent changes have changed that deadline, offering some flexibility to those taking the loan. (Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income, and if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.)

The new rules. In the past, the requirement for repaying a loan taken from your 401(k)-retirement account after leaving a job was 60 days to avoid paying taxes or the penalty when you file your income taxes. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed that rule – now, the deadline for loan repayment is the tax return due date for the year in which you leave your job. This also factors in extensions.1

So, as an example: if you were to end your employment today, the due date to repay the loan would be the tax filing deadline, which is April 15 most years or October 15 if you file an extension.1

What hasn’t changed? Most of what transpires after a 401(k) loan still applies. Your repayment plan involves a deduction from your paycheck over a period of five years. The exception would be if you are using the loan to make a down payment on your primary residence, in which case you may have much longer to repay, provided that you are still with the same employer.1

You aren’t just repaying the amount you borrow, but also the interest on the loan. Depending on the plan, you may see a prime interest rate, plus 1%.1 *

*This can vary as the interest rate for loan repayment is generally determined by the plan administrator

If you do take the loan, a good practice may be to continue making contributions to your 401(k) account, even as you repay the loan. Why? First, to continue building your savings. Second, to continue to take advantage of any employer matching that your workplace might offer. While taking the loan may hamper your ability to build potential gains toward your retirement, you can still take advantage of the account, and that employer match is a great opportunity.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through LMC Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor. LMC Financial Advisors and LPL Financial are separate non-affiliated entities.

Citations.

1 - kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T001-C001-S003-ex-workers-get-more-time-to-repay-401-k-loans.html [2/13/19]