Q: I was recently laid off and withdrew my 401(k) balance to live on. Do I have to pay a penalty for early withdrawal? I am 58 years old.
A: Since you were at least 55 years old, in the case of separating from employment, you have been exempt from the 10-percent early withdrawal penalty. Your former employer should place a Code 2 (Known Exception Exists) in Box 7 of the 1099-R that the company will send you. If there is some other code in that box, then you will have to complete IRS Form 5329 and place a Code 01 on Line 2 of that form.
These questions are actual inquiries submitted by taxpayers to our AARP Tax-Aide Program. The AARP Tax-Aide Program is a volunteer-run, free tax-preparation and assistance program offered to low- and middle-income taxpayers with special attention to people age 60 and older. Our volunteers are trained and IRS-certified to understand individual federal-tax issues. Our volunteers provide tax assistance as a public service and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.