Find Out If 72(T) Penalty Free Income Is a Solution for You


  • Author Stuart Spivak
  • Published January 17, 2018
  • Word count 1,147

Over my 30+ years in business, my team and I have helped many families to get financially organized and to make better investment decisions with their money. We have counseled individuals and families about how to save money and accumulate wealth. We've been a big believer and teacher of wealth building and believe the only way to do this for most people is to systematically save money each month as an automatic deduction from their checking account of and transferred to a separate investment account. This "pay yourself first" mentality has been why most our clients have accumulated substantial wealth over time.

This "pay yourself first" system is the exact reason so many people have accumulated significant wealth in their 401(k) and/or other Retirement Account (the equity in your home is a similar analogy since making monthly payments over 15 or 30 years plus appreciation also accumulates significant wealth). Contributing for many years to your 401(k) has allowed many people to accumulate what is the largest liquid some of money they will have in their e. am also a big believer in dollar cost averaging. Adding money every (2) weeks or every month to your entire 401(k) allows you to buy more shares when the price of shares is lower and less shares when the prices are high. This is dollar cost averaging.

Many of our clients are under the age of 59 ½ and were looking to access their IRA, 401(k), TSP, TSA, pension/retirement funds without being assessed the 10% early distribution penalty. If this is something you want or need to do, by taking substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP) or 72(t) payments you can take early distributions from your IRA and avoid the penalty.

Keep in mind that there are many rules and considerations that must be taken into account. Remember, it takes no skill to spend money; the hard part is to make it and save it. I have always believed that "you get what you pay for."

In my life, I've always believed "it pays to get advice". Once of my favorite sayings is, "Common see people who have made common sense investment sense is NOT that common". Every day in my practice mistakes that have cost them thousands or tens of thousands of dollars that could have been avoided by getting proper advice and counsel from a competent financial professional. Often, people make financial decisions and then ask, "Did I make the right decision?". We hope people will consult with us before they make a 72(t) early retirement decision because the costs and penalties for mistakes are significant.

I agree that there are some areas of personal finance that you can do yourself without the help of an advisor. For example, setting up a checking or savings account at a local bank or credit union. when it comes to investment planning, asset management, income planning, life and disability insurance, required minimum distribution strategies as well as 72 hiring a professional is a smart decision. Calling one of the (800) numbers at a well-known Investment Company and asking them to help you with 72(t) planning is a problem waiting to happen. Why? These companies are not in the advice business. They really don't want to advise on these 72(t) strategies; they simply want you to invest money at their company.

Because we are affiliated with an independent broker-dealer, we do not have any proprietary products to push. We are truly an independent advisory firm and have many solution ("risk based" and "safe money options") that we can offer to help our clients and prospects carry out their stated goals and goals.

If you are thinking that the 72(t) strategy may be for you, it is essential that you consult with a 72(t) specialist. Again, this is not a do-it-yourself project. Committing to these 72(t) payments is a big decision. There are ten 72(t) rules that are used as a guideline, and are realistically just the tip of the iceberg for what is actually involved. 72(t) planning is complex and the penalties for mistakes are significant.

Why would people want to access their money prior to 59 ½? Lots of reasons. Everyone has a different story, and everyone has different dreams and goals, circumstances and situations. As a financial advisor helping individuals, families, business owners and entrepreneurs to get financially organized and to make better decisions with their money, I realized that there was an area of financial planning that not many advisors specialized in. This area of specialization is 72(t) IRA "pre 59 ½" retirement distribution planning.

Ten 72(t) Rules you need to know before you get started:

The payments must continue for at least five (5) years or until you are age 59 ½, whichever period is longer

The payments must be substantially equal and generally may not be changed or stopped during the payment term, unless you become disabled or die

You must take the payments at least annually.

The 72(t) payment plan is only applicable to the IRA or IRAs from which you calculated your first payment. Before setting up a 72(t) payment plan, you can split your IRA into two IRAs if that best meets your needs. You can use one IRA to calculate and take your 72(t) payments, while the other can remain available for future non-72(t) use.

The IRS has approved three methods for calculating 72(t) payments. Those methods are the required minimum distribution (RMD) method, the amortization method, and the annuity factor method. The RMD method will produce smaller payments than the other two methods to start out. While other methods of calculating the payments are not prohibited, it would be extremely risky to use some other method that is not officially "blessed" by the IRS

You can switch to the RMD method from either the amortization or the annuity factor method. This is a one-time irrevocable switch and you must use the RMD method for the remainder of the schedule

If you do not stick to your 72(t) payment plan, or if you change the payments, they will no longer qualify for the exemption from the 10% penalty. The bad news: the 10% penalty tax will be reinstated retroactively to all the distributions you have taken before age 59 ½.

An extra withdrawal is considered a modification of the payment schedule. Any change I the account balance other than by regular gains and losses or 72(t) distributions, will be also considered a modification and the 10% penalty will be triggered. This means that you cannot add funds to your IRA either through rollovers or contributions.

You can decide to start taking 72(t) payments from your IRA at any age.

You may not roll over or convert your 72(t) payments.

We suggest that people get competent specialized and personalized advice and counsel, 72(t) is not for everyone and many times there are other ideas that we have shared with our clients to help them figure out the financial challenges they are trying to accomplish.

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Stuart Spivak is currently president & senior partner at the Spivak Financial Group a registered representative of Centaurus Financial® with 29+ years of experience in Income Planning, Asset Management, Retirement Planning, Life/Disability Insurance & Employee Benefits.

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