By Mike Miles
October 28th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am 61 years old and have a Thrift Savings Plan loan of $24,000 and over $60,000 remaining in my TSP account. I applied for a Voluntary Early Retirement Authority/Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay at my human resources office awaiting approval. What happens to my TSP loan and to my remaining balance in my account if I request a full withdrawal when my retirement is approved? Does the remaining balance of my TSP loan gets paid up from my remaining balance and incur penalty for the full withdrawal?
A. If you don’t repay your loan within 90 days of the day your agency notifies the TSP of your separation from service, the outstanding balance due will be declared a taxable distribution. If you request a lump-sum withdrawal of your entire TSP balance at retirement, you’ll pay tax on the remaining balance and the un-repaid loan amount due.
October 28th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have a variable annuity (mutual fund) with Western Reserve Life Assurance and it has been doing terribly for many years. I put $10,000 in it in 2001, and it’s only valued at $14, 500 now, 12 years later! My Thrift Savings Plan account is doing much better, and I would love to transfer or roll over this money into my TSP account. Can it be done, should I, and, if so, how?
A. It may only be done if:
1. The annuity is an IRA or other Qualified Retirement Account; and
2. All of the money it contains is taxable on distribution.
October 16th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have seen quite a few questions (and answers) about how to request that Thrift Savings Plan loan payments be suspended during the government shutdown, but no detailed information about exactly how to continue to make payments should one want to do that. When during the regular pay cycle should one send in a payment check with the appropriate form? When we go back to work, and if back pay is given, will the loan payments for the entire period of furlough, or perhaps the last pay period only, be taken out? How long of a period of nonpayment may there be before the tax penalties kick in?
A. If you are in nonpay status for reasons other than active military service:
The maximum period that the TSP can suspend loan payments is one year.
If your nonpay period exceeds one year, your loan will be automatically reamortized and you must make payments from your personal funds to avoid being in default.
Interest on your loan accrues while your payments are suspended.
If you want to continue making loan payments while in nonpay status, you can do so by sending a personal check or money order to the TSP. Use Form TSP-26, Loan Payment Coupon, when sending in your payments. Your payments will be taken into account when the loan is reamortized upon your return to pay status.
When you begin your period of nonpay status, you or your agency must submit one of the following forms of documentation to the TSP:
Form TSP-41, Notification to TSP of Nonpay Status; or
Form SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action; or
A letter on agency or service letterhead, signed by an appropriate agency official or your commander or adjutant, that contains your name, date of birth and Social Security number; the beginning date of the nonpay status; and the signature and title of the agency or service representative providing the information; or
A copy of your military orders.
When you return from nonpay status, you must notify the TSP of your date of return. You can use any type of documentation described in the above section. Once your agency notifies the TSP of your return, your loan will be reamortized to place it in good standing.
Note: If your agency reports you as separated from civilian service to perform military service, you will be required to repay your loan in full within 90 days. If you don’t, the outstanding loan balance and any unpaid interest will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service as a taxable distribution.
September 23rd, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I’m eligible to retire CSRS Offset in a few months. I was considering a Thrift Savings Plan loan prior to retiring to pay off other bills. I understand that upon retirement/separation, I would receive a Form 1099 for taxable income. Is this something I should consider?
A. If you don’t repay your outstanding loan balance within 90 days of separation from service, the amount due will be declared a taxable distribution and will be treated as though you took the money from your account on the date of the declaration. I believe that you should always consider all reasonable options when it comes to making important financial decisions.
September 16th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I’m nearing retirement and have a Thrift Savings Plan loan. If I decide not to pay off the loan but to pay the taxes on the taxable distribution, am I still eligible for the one-time partial withdrawal after I retire?
A. A declared taxable distribution does not violate the TSP’s eligibility requirements for taking a partial withdrawal after separating from service.
September 16th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. How long after I retire do I have to repay my loan? Is there time to take a partial payment from the Thrift Savings Plan at retirement to pay the loan?
A. You have 90 days following your separation to repay the loan. It doesn’t make sense to take a partial withdrawal to repay the loan, since any unpaid balance will be declared a taxable distribution when the deadline is reached but won’t count against your once-in-a-lifetime limit on partial withdrawals.
September 10th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I have not worked since fall 2011. I’m on leave without pay with the Postal Service. Currently on disability retirement approved by Social Security and the Postal Service. The Office of Personnel Management has until November to finalize the disability retirement. On Sept. 23, I default on my Thrift Savings Plan personal loan ($5,300).
I am entitled to agency retirement pay of $1,645 per month but cannot be paid until OPM acts. Social Security is roughly ¼ pay, and I cannot realistically pay the catch-up amount and the two monthly loan payments for at least two months. At that time, I should be in a position to repay the entire loan (due to the situation explained below).
If I default on the outstanding balance BUT in November, OPM approves my lump-sum payment due for the time not worked and entitled to pay (which depending on what they say will either be September 2011, when I last worked, or March 2012, when I exhausted my annual time and sick days) and I then repay the outstanding balance in its entirety prior to year end, thereby negating the loan default, would the default status then be changed to paid and the taxable distribution then be nullified?
In my mind, if I repay the loan after default but before year end, I should prevent any Internal Revenue Service action regarding the early withdrawal penalty. I have no issues with extra interest or costs associated with my problem but don’t wish to throw away $500 if I can avoid it.
I have an appointment with a tax attorney to try to sort this out, but if you have had any experience in this, I would appreciate a response so I know what to prepare for.
A. I can’t advise you on your specific situation, and what an attorney may or may not be able to accomplish for you. But in general, once the loan is declared a taxable distribution, it cannot be repaid. You may be able to roll the declared distribution amount over to an IRA to defer the tax and avoid any early withdrawal penalty, however.
August 27th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I plan on retiring in September 2014. I bought a house in November 2012 and need some remodeling done. If I borrow from my Thrift Savings Plan ($10,000), will I have to pay back the full amount borrowed prior to retiring?
A. You’ll have to pay the money back shortly after you retire or it will be declared a taxable distribution.
March 11th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I’m a recent federal retiree and was attempting to rollover my Thrift Savings Plan account to an IRA. I filled out the proper forms and had the financial institution where I’m rolling over the funds complete its section (Page 4), as well. I faxed the TSP withdrawal form as instructed. After a couple of weeks, I received a check (minus federal taxes) in the mail. I called the TSP hotline and they said that they received all of the pages of my form except for Page 4. They said that Page 4 was missing but the pages following Page 4 were received. I’ve asked repeatedly on how we can fix this problem but haven’t gotten a good answer yet. It’s been two weeks now and I haven’t cashed the check yet. I would like to give it back and have the full amount rolled over to the IRA. Is there someone I can talk to other than the people in the call center? What are my options?
A. You should engage a CPA as quickly as possible for advice on how to handle this. If you have a check in your possession, payable to you, you have constructive receipt of the money and the clock is ticking for the rollover. Not cashing the check will not prevent the money from being considered a taxable distribution if the rollover time limit expires.
February 20th, 2013 | Uncategorized
Q. I am an air traffic controller who is retiring in two months at age 48. I have an outstanding Thrift Savings Plan loan for about $9,000. What happens if I don’t pay this off before I retire? Do I pay the 10 percent penalty, along with it being shown as income? Does this affect my monthly withdrawal from TSP using the 72(t) rule? Also, can I take a one-time partial lump-sum withdrawal and pay the 10 percent penalty without it affecting my monthly withdrawal?
A. If you don’t repay the loan within the grace period after you retire, it will be declared a taxable distribution and you will owe penalty and taxes on the income. This does not affect your ability to initiate monthly distribution payments to satisfy the 72(t) rules on the remaining balance. Taking a partial withdrawal does not impair your ability to take automatic monthly distributions, which are considered a form of full withdrawal.