Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

L Fund recommendation

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Q. You recommend  that if we do not feel comfortable managing our TSP,  we should  invest in the L Fund that most closely corresponds to our life expectancy. However, the L Funds are named for the year we expect to start withdrawing money, not the year we expect to expire. I expect that I will not be withdrawing much money the year I expire, and certainly none afterwards. So why do you word your advice that way? Read the rest of this entry »

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Loan down payment

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Q. I am a FERS employee eligible for a TSP residential loan of $23,000. If I request this amount for a primary-residence home purchase, would my down payment and closing cost need to be at or above this amount of $23,000 on my signed purchase contract? Not sure if I will put down 5 percent (13K) or 10 percent (26K). If I put 5 percent on purchase contract, will TSP decline the request for the full $23, 000 loan? I don’t want to write 10 percent on purchase contract if I am not going to put quite that much down, however I’m worried if I only say 5 percent that the loan won’t be approved for $23,000. Can you please explain? I could not find anything in the loan documents on this topic. Read the rest of this entry »

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Withdrawal penalty?

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Q. I recently retired under CSRS. I am 57. I would like to take a partial withdrawal from my TSP. What penalties and taxes will I have to pay on the amount I withdraw.

A. As long as you retired during or after the year in which you reached age 55, there will be no early withdrawal penalty due. There will be 20 percent mandatory withholding taken from your payment, however, unless you roll the money over directly to an IRA.

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Withdrawal after retirement

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Q. I am an operations manager for the FAA covered under CSRS. I plan to retire Dec. 31, 2016, at the age of 55 with 34 years of service under the controller bill. Can I make a total withdrawal from my TSP in 2017 without paying the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty?

A. Yes.

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Moving money into TSP

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Q. I understand I am allowed to roll or transfer other 401′s or Roth IRA’s into TSP, but can I just invest money saved in traditional savings accounts into my TSP?

A. While you may transfer certain qualified tax-deferred retirement assets into the TSP, Roth IRA and taxable savings are not eligible.

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Default on TSP loan

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Q. I am three years away from retiring (active-duty military officer) and have some credit card debt I would like to pay off before leaving active duty. I am not eligible for a TSP hardship withdrawal because of my income. What would happen if I take out a TSP loan and intentionally not pay it back? I understand I would be responsible for it becoming a taxable distribution and a 10 percent early withdrawal fee, but would there be any other negative effects against me or my credit? Would it even be ethical? Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP annuity

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Q. My question has to do with choosing to withdraw my TSP account upon retirement. I understand I can leave my balance with the government and either choose equal payments for my expected lifespan or have the government purchase an annuity on my behalf. What I do not understand is the difference between choosing equal payments for the rest of my life and purchasing an annuity solely for myself? What are the pros and cons for each? I also don’t understand why I am also given a choice to choose a survivor benefit with my wife as the beneficiary should I decide on the annuity available through the government. If I die before my wife, isn’t she entitled to my TSP balance regardless if I choose the equal monthly payout or the annuity? Since she is the beneficiary of my TSP remaining balance, why should I even consider purchasing an annuity with a survivor benefit when this will have the effect of reducing my monthly pay? She will get the remaining TSP balance should I die anyway, won’t she? I also would like to know  if I choose either option for withdrawing my TSP retirement funds, do I retain control of the balance? Can I still move the money around from the C, S, and I funds in order to sustain the longevity of my retirement account? Read the rest of this entry »

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TSP residential loan

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Q. What happens if the down payment made is less than the amount of a TSP residential loan? Would the borrower have to claim the difference as a withdrawal and pay the penalty and claim as income?

A. I don’t believe that there is a requirement to commit the entire loan to the down payment, but you should consult your tax preparer to be sure.

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TSP funds

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Q. I started working for the government about 2-1/2 years ago. I am 56 and plan to retire in 10 years. I am contributing 15 percent of my  pay to the TSP G fund. I want to earn more than this fund is paying. What are your recommendations on which fund I should contributing to?

A. If you don’t know what else to do, then about the best thing I can suggest is that you use the L Fund that most closely corresponds to your life expectancy. You won’t know how much spending this will safely support, but at least you’ll know that your account is risk-efficient.

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TSP rollover

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Q. At age 57, can I pull all my TSP out and roll it over into a primary house without paying tax?

A. No.

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