E.g., 07/02/2020
E.g., 07/02/2020
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  | Financial Decisions

After-Tax Balance Rules for Retirement Accounts

The advantage of accumulating after-tax assets in a retirement account is that when they are distributed, the amounts will be tax- and penalty-free. However, this benefit is realized only if the necessary steps are taken.
The purpose of a 401(k) is to provide retirement income, so the last thing you ever want to do is access that money while you're still working. But if times get tough and you grow desperate for cash, you might be tempted to tap that account early and access the money that's technically yours.
If you are contributing to a 401(k) plan, you probably enjoy seeing those savings increase each year. When you change jobs, you may think of that money as a way to pay moving expenses and other costs connected to starting a new position. Or, you may think of the account as a way to save for a house or another large purchase, or to borrow money for your child's education.
You're interviewing for a new job, and you ask whether the company offers a retirement account. The employer says yes, and you move on to other topics. When you accept the job, you enroll in the retirement account and begin making contributions, but later on, you're disappointed by your savings.