Ask The Experts: Money Matters

By Mike Miles

Roth TSP withdrawal

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Q. I am 47 and hope to retire at my minimum retirement age in nine years. I contribute to both my traditional Thrift Savings Plan and Roth TSP. A publication I read, “Important Tax Information about Payments from Your TSP Account,” says you will not have to pay taxes for Roth contributions if you follow a two-step rule: Hold for five years + age 59½. But I think it also says that if I transfer my Roth TSP out of the TSP when I retire, the monies will not be subject to taxes. Is this correct?

Can I only roll over my Roth TSP and keep my traditional TSP with the TSP or must I roll over both the Roth and traditional? I ask because I would like to keep my traditional TSP where it is and only roll over the Roth to avoid taxes on distributions that occur before age 59½.

A. The five-year + 59½ rule applies only to earnings, but it applies to both your Roth TSP and a Roth IRA account. You may always withdraw your contributions from either account without tax or penalty. You may transfer all or part of your Roth TSP balance to a Roth IRA, if you are eligible for a partial withdrawal, and leave the remainder in your TSP account, using Form TSP-77.

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Comments

  1. Steve Scherr Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I think that if the writer were to roll over his Roth TSP into a Roth IRA, and kept it there until age 59 1/2 and five years, then he would be okay.

    After retirement, he could take distributions from his TSP (which would be only traditional TSP) without an early-withdrawal penalty. Also, after waiting until 59 1/2 and 5 years, he could take distributions from the Roth IRA without penalty or tax.

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