401(k) Loan Payback Options- If You Change Jobs

 In Ozarks Live

401(k) Loan Payback Options- If You Change Jobs

401(k) plans are an easy, convenient way to save for retirement.  Set up through your workplace, a percentage of your paycheck is contributed to the plan automatically each paycheck.  Some companies even help out by adding a matching contribution.  The money can be withdrawn at age 59 1/2.  Most 401(k) plans allow for a loan option, if you had a ‘need’ you could borrow from yourself, instead of from a credit card or bank.  Today we’re going to discuss what’s the effect of a loan from your 401(k) and taxes if you voluntarily or involuntarily leave your job.

401(k) Plans

Here are the basic 401(k) loan rules

  • You can borrow up to 50% of the vested balance* in your plan.1
  • The maximum dollar amount you can borrow is $50,000.
  • Loans must be paid back within five years. (There’s an exception if the funds are used to purchase a primary residence.)2

*Any money you contribute is automatically vested, matching contributions to the plan by your employer may be subject to a vesting schedule.


Depending on the holder of the plan you have a few workable options

#1 Pay up

They may give you a time period to repay the 401(k) loan otherwise the plan is required to issue IRS Form 1099-R. Generally, you will have until your tax return is due to repay the loan, including extensions, October 15th each year.

#2 Loan Offset

They may reduce your vested balance which is called a loan offset

The loan offset could have tax consequences involved.  The loan will be treated as a distribution and subject to tax.  The tax will be at your current tax bracket, plus if you’re under age 59 and a half, you’re going to be penalized 10% by the IRS for an early withdrawal.  The amount could push you into a higher tax bracket.

#3 Borrow To Repay

There are a variety of options to consider borrowing from to repay your 401(k) loan.  

    • Credit Card
    • Home Equity Loans
    • Personal Loans

#4 Convert 401(k) to an IRA

After separation from an employer, you can roll your 401(k) plan into an IRA account.  IRA accounts are available from banks, investment firms, or insurance companies.  This option may give you more time to pay back your loan.  Let me explain:  normally you would have 60 days to pay back any withdrawals (or loans) from a 401(k), but with the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress extended the 60 days to the due date, plus extensions, of your federal tax return filing for the year the loan takes place.  You would gain more time to pay back your 401(k) loan by using this extension 

Let’s work on an example to illustrate the point…

Example: Maja, age 45, loses her job on March 13, 2021, she has a $53,432 401(k) account balance and a $10,000 outstanding loan balance.  Maja is unable to repay the loan.  She elects a direct rollover of her 401(k) into an IRA.  On April 15, 2021, the plan offsets her $53,432 account balance by the $10,000 loan balance and transfers $43,432 into her IRA.  

Maja has until October 15, 2022 (tax extension deadline) to replace and roll over the $10,000.  Otherwise, she will have an additional taxable income of $10,000 and a $1,000 (10%) IRS Penalty.  

If you successfully repay the full amount of the outstanding loan balance, no tax or penalty will be due on the loan distribution.

Bonus Tip: 

If you meet the definition of ‘qualified individual’ under the CARES Act, you can treat a 2020 loan offset as a coronavirus-related distribution (CRD). This gives you three years to pay back the loan and roll it over to the IRA.  If you were unable to repay the loan the amount would also be exempt from the 10% early distribution penalty, and you could spread the taxable income over three years.

Since 401(k) plans are contributed to pre-tax, be cautious when making any changes or withdrawals.  I explain some common mistakes in this blog.

If you have questions about this situation or any other financial situation, we would love to hear from you.  You can reach us at www.Resourcecenterinc.com or you can call the office 882-1800, and I’ll be glad to sit down and visit and we can talk about it.  To set up a call on my calendar click here.

Catch Bruce Porter’s show Dollars & $ense Tuesdays at 3pm on KOLR’s Ozarks Live  Visit our YouTube page for more videos


Neither the firm nor its agents or representatives may give tax or legal advice. Individuals should consult with a qualified professional for guidance before making any purchasing decisions. Our firm is not affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or any governmental agency. All investments are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Any media logos and or trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners and are not an endorsement by those owners of our firm or this presentation. This is a hypothetical example provided for illustrative purposes only; it does not represent a real life scenario, and should not be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation. The information and opinions in this article are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by Advisors Excel. They are given for informational purposes only and are not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation. The Resource Center is an independent financial services firm that utilizes a variety of investment and insurance products. Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and The Resource Center are not affiliated companies. 01008193 08/21


1- https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-vesting

2- https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-loans

3- https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/coronavirus-related-relief-for-retirement-plans-and-iras-questions-and-answers

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