Can I Withdraw From My Roth IRA?

When and How You Can Withdraw From Your Roth IRA

A woman works on a laptop in a coffee shop.

 Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

Roth IRAs (individual retirement arrangements) are tax-advantaged retirement accounts in which you contribute after-tax money then receive tax-free distributions in your golden years. 

Like a traditional IRA, Roth IRAs have contribution limits based on income and filing status.

You can withdraw your money anytime you like, but there are some penalties and tax traps to avoid, especially if you rolled over money from a traditional plan.

Key Takeaways

  • You can withdraw the money you deposited to a Roth IRA anytime without tax penalty
  • With a Roth IRA, you can withdraw any earnings on your investments with no taxation in your retirement years. 
  • Early withdrawals or rollovers from traditional plans may incur penalties, taxable income, or both.

When Can You Withdraw From Your Roth IRA?

You can withdraw your contributions from a Roth IRA at any time, tax-free and penalty-free. Roth IRAs are ‘first in first out’ which means all of your contributions are withdrawn before earnings.

For example, if you contributed $5,000 per year to your Roth IRA for the last 10 years, you could withdraw as much as $50,000 at any time without tax or penalty. 

Withdrawals that are ‘qualified’ are always tax-free. A withdrawal is qualified if the Roth IRA is from an account that is at least five years old and you are:

  • Age 59½ or older
  • Disabled
  • Using the withdrawal (up to $10,000) to purchase your first home
  • Receiving the withdrawal as a beneficiary or the estate at the account owner’s death

How To Withdraw From Your IRA

To make a withdrawal, you’ll need to take the proper steps and fill out the correct paperwork. The bank, broker-dealer, or other financial institution that holds the account will have a specific form for a Roth IRA withdrawal. 

The form will require information about the account, as well as the specific reason for the withdrawal. The financial institution will notify the IRS and forward you a 1099-R that they use to report their distributions. 


You’ll file Form 8606 for non-deductible IRAs including distributions from Roth IRAs with your Form 1040.

When Is a Roth IRA Withdrawal Taxable?

Early Withdrawals 

If you withdraw money from your IRA in excess of your contributions before the account is five years old, then the earnings are subject to taxation. 

For example, say you contributed $5,000 per year for three years for a total of $15,000 in deposits. Then, say that principal earned another $3,000 through your investments. In the fourth year, you could withdraw $15,000 (the original principal) without being subject to taxation. But if you drew the entire $18,000, then $3,000 would be taxed. In addition, the earnings would be subject to a 10% penalty tax. 

Rollovers From Traditional Plans (Conversions)

Traditional IRAs can be converted and rolled over to Roth IRAs. At the time of the conversion, income tax is paid on the traditional IRA balance.


If you withdraw any of the converted money before five years, there is a 10% penalty tax. The five-year period starts from the date of the conversion

For example if you contributed $5,000 to a Roth IRA for five years, and then converted a traditional IRA of $20,000 in the sixth year, the $20,000 can’t be withdrawn for an additional five years without penalty. The penalty would apply even though the $20,000 is considered a contribution.

Exceptions to the Penalty Tax

Some early withdrawals are taxable, but exempt from the penalty tax. They include withdrawals related to: 

  • Disaster relief: You can make an early withdrawal if your primary home was damaged in a federal disaster area and you sustained an economic loss. You can repay the withdrawal back to your Roth IRA anytime within three years.
  • Covid relief: If you or your spouse was diagnosed with the virus or you suffered economic loss because of it, you can make an early withdrawal.
  • Qualified reservists: If you were ordered or called to active duty for more than 179 days, you’ll qualify for an early withdrawal without penalty.
  • Health insurance premiums: You can use IRA funds to pay premiums while you’re unemployed.
  • First-time home buyers: You can make an early withdrawal to pay for up to $10,000 of expenses to buy or build a home without paying the penalty tax
  • Higher education expenses: Use IRA funds to pay for education expenses for you, your spouse, your children, or your grandchildren.
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses: IRA contributions can be use to pay for medical expenses in excess of 7.5% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).
  • IRS tax levy: on the plan

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I borrow from my Roth IRA?

Some retirement plans like 401(k), and 403(b) plans have loan provisions, and rules for how they are repaid. You cannot take out loans with money in either your Roth or traditional IRAs. The IRS considers borrowing money from these accounts to be a “prohibited transaction.”

How much money can you withdraw from a Roth IRA?

There are no limits on Roth IRA withdrawals. You can withdraw as much money as you put into a Roth IRA, or the principal, without being taxed on the distribution, but not your earnings. You can withdraw earnings in a Roth IRA account at your retirement age. If you withdraw your earnings before your retirement age, you will typically face taxation and penalties. You can withdraw money from your Roth IRA anytime.

Want to read more content like this? Sign up for The Balance’s newsletter for daily insights, analysis, and financial tips, all delivered straight to your inbox every morning!

Was this page helpful?
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. IRS. “Publication 590-B (2020), Distributions From Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).”

  2. IRS. “Reporting IRA and Retirement Plan Transactions.”

Related Articles