Retirement Account Rollover Options

Where can my retirement account go when I retire or change jobs? For the most part, when you retire or otherwise end your employment you may direct transfer or direct rollover your retirement account(s) to a new IRA account established at a qualified custodian. Here are some special situations that come up where you may separate accounts to receive the transfer.

Simple IRA

Small businesses can establish a SIMPLE IRA retirement plan. It’s similar to a 401k with but with much simpler and therefore less costly record-keeping and administrative requirements. In the SIMPLE plan you have your own individual account. If the SIMPLE account is less than 2 year old it can only go into another simple IRA account. Agter two years you can direct transfer the account into a rollover IRA account or other company sponsored retirement accounts.

Designated Roth Accounts (401k/403b/457 Roth)

Many 401k, 403b, and 457 Roth plans allow you the option of designating your elective deferrals (money out of your income) as Roth contributions. It’s important for tax reasons to preserve the tax treatment of the deferrals when your employment ends. Roth Contributions made inside a 401k/403b/457 account can come out–that is transfer/rollover to a Roth IRA account setup at a qualified custodian.

Additionally,

Designated Roth contributions can be rolled over into another Designated Roth account at your new employer. It must be a direct transfer, trustee to trustee.

ROTH

Roth IRAs can only go into another Roth IRA. You can’t put Roth IRA contributions into a designated Roth account.

Qualified Plans and SEP-IRA/Traditional IRA

These plans include all defined benefit pension, pre-tax 401k, pre-tax 403b, pre-tax 457, profit-sharing, money purchase, lump-sum distribution, along with traditional IRA and SEP-IRA accounts. Generally this “pre-tax” money can move among each of these plans without IRS restrictions.

But…

Beware of the underlying investments. And this applies to any type of retirement account. For example a client with the TIAA-CREF, Traditional Annuity investment is restricted in how they can take money out of this account. This is very likely to be true in cases where the investment is an annuity or certificate of deposit.

The IRS produced a handy chart that you can reference. Links within take you to more detailed information on the IRS website.

About the author

Eric J. McClain, CFP®

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