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How to Withhold Taxes on IRA Distributions

Learn more about how you can set up withholding from your IRA distributions, so that we can send taxes directly to the IRS on your behalf.

Articles by Betterment Editors

By the Editorial Staff
Betterment Resource Center  |  Published: September 1, 2018


TABLE OF CONTENTS


Betterment is not a tax advisor, and the information provided here should not be construed as tax advice. It should only be used for informational purposes. Please consult a qualified tax professional to determine the rules that apply to your individual tax situation.

What is IRA tax withholding?

Tax withholding is the percentage of income tax that you elect to have withheld from your IRA distribution and sent directly to the IRS in an effort to mitigate your future tax liability.

The amount you withhold, if any, may differ from your ultimate tax liability. If your withholding ends up being too much, you will be due a refund when you file your tax return. If your withholding ends up being too little, you will owe an additional amount to the government when you file your tax return.

How can I set up tax withholding?

When you initiate a distribution from your IRA, you will automatically be prompted to choose a federal tax withholding amount. All customers will be defaulted to 10% withholding, but can select 0% or any other value between 10% and 100%.

Why would I choose to withhold more than the default 10%?

Customers commonly use the IRA withholding process to meet future tax obligations from other sources of income such as: capital gains, dividends, rental income, and self-employment income.

Example: Bob is 62 and runs a consulting business. He withdraws $20,000 from his Roth IRA, which he opened when he was 50. He doesn’t owe any tax on this withdrawal because he is over age 59.5, and his account has been open for at least 5 years. Even though Bob’s Roth distribution is tax-free, he could still elect to withhold the entire $20,000 (100%)  to cover taxes he expects to owe on $50,000 in self-employment income from his business.

Can I change my withholding percentage after I have submitted a withdrawal request?

No. Once the distribution has been requested, the election is final. If the withholding ends up being too much or too little, there will be a reconciliation when filing your tax return the following year.

Is there a way to check my tax withholding history?

Yes, you can view records of previous tax withholdings on Activity. You will also receive a confirmation email that contains a breakdown of the amount withheld and the amount being sent to your linked bank account.

A 1099-R tax form will also be generated by January 31 of the following year, which will show your IRA withholding total for the year.

Is there a way to check the status of my tax withholding?

Pending transfers will be noted on Manage Transfers with both the amount withheld for the IRS and the amount going to the customer’s bank account. Once the transfer is complete, a record will be posted on Activity.

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