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What Are The Tax Consequences Of Taking a Distribution From a Pension or 401(k) Plan?

Q. Tiffany T. of Pennsylvania asks: "I Am Going Through a Divorce and We Recently Had Our Retirement Plans, Pension and 401(k)'s Evaluated. If We Are Able to Immediately Offset One Another Before the Divorce is Finalized, What Are the Tax Consequences Of Taking a Distribution From a Pension or 401(k) Plan?"

A. Evan E., in the QDRO Department of Pension Evaluators®at Troyan Inc.®answers: "The courts are typically concerned that if there is a taxable event (distribution from the pension plan so to speak) that occurs via immediate offset within a short time after dissolution of the marriage, it should consider the tax consequences in computation the present value of pension benefits on divorce.

Pension payouts are taxed first to the recipient as personal ordinary income in the year in which received. If paid as an annuity, (monthly benefit) the total amount received each year is subject to personal ordinary income tax. If paid in a lump sum, such as in the case of a 401(k) or cash-type Plan, the pension may be eligible to be rolled over into an IRA to defer taxes. Annuity payments are not permitted to be rolled over."

Evan Edelstein

Lead QDRO Consultant

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