Coronavirus-related Relief for Retirement Plans and IRAs – Questions and Answers
Section 2202 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), enacted on March 27, 2020, provides for special distribution options and rollover rules for retirement plans and IRAs, and expands permissible loans from certain retirement plans. The CARES Act bumps the legal loan limit up to 100% of the vested balance or $100,000, whichever is less. This option is available for any loans taken out during the six-month period from March 27, 2020 to September 22, 2020.
Participants must repay standard retirement account loans within five years, and you can generally expect to start repaying immediately (and remember, you’re repaying the principal and most of the interest to yourself). The CARES Act allows borrowers to forgo repayment during 2020, and starts the five-year repayment clock in 2021, giving borrowers an extra year to repay their loans. The loan will continue to accrue interest in 2020. *Loan repayment starts in 2021. Check with your tax council for loan repayment guidelines.
Have questions? Here are a few of them:
Q1. What are the special rules for retirement plans and IRAs in section 2202 of the CARES Act?
In general, section 2202 of the CARES Act provides for expanded distribution options and favorable tax treatment for up to $100,000 of coronavirus-related distributions from eligible retirement plans (certain employer retirement plans, such as section 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and IRAs) to qualified individuals, as well as special rollover rules with respect to such distributions. It also increases the limit on the amount a qualified individual may borrow from an eligible retirement plan (not including an IRA) and permits a plan sponsor to provide qualified individuals up to an additional year to repay their plan loans. See the FAQs below for more details.
Q2. Does the IRS intend to issue guidance on section 2202 of the CARES Act?
The Treasury Department and the IRS are formulating guidance on section 2202 of the CARES Act and anticipate releasing that guidance in the near future. IRS Notice 2005-92 (PDF), issued on November 30, 2005, provided guidance on the tax-favored treatment of distributions and plan loans under sections 101 and 103 of the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005 (KETRA) as those provisions applied to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Treasury Department and the IRS anticipate that the guidance on the CARES Act will apply the principles of Notice 2005-92 to the extent the provisions of section 2202 of the CARES Act are substantially similar to the provisions of KETRA that are addressed in that notice.
Q3. Am I a qualified individual for purposes of section 2202 of the CARES Act?
You are a qualified individual if –
- You are diagnosed with the virus SARS-CoV-2 or with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
- Your spouse or dependent is diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 or with COVID-19 by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
- You experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off, or having work hours reduced due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19;
- You experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being unable to work due to lack of child care due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19; or
- You experience adverse financial consequences as a result of closing or reducing hours of a business that you own or operate due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.
Under section 2202 of the CARES Act, the Treasury Department and the IRS may issue guidance that expands the list of factors taken into account to determine whether an individual is a qualified individual as a result of experiencing adverse financial consequences. The Treasury Department and the IRS have received and are reviewing comments from the public requesting that the list of factors be expanded.
Q4. What is a coronavirus-related distribution?
A coronavirus-related distribution is a distribution that is made from an eligible retirement plan to a qualified individual from January 1, 2020, to December 30, 2020, up to an aggregate limit of $100,000 from all plans and IRAs.
Q5. Do I have to pay the 10% additional tax on a coronavirus-related distribution from my retirement plan or IRA?
No, the 10% additional tax on early distributions does not apply to any coronavirus-related distribution.
Q6. When do I have to pay taxes on coronavirus-related distributions?
The distributions generally are included in income ratably over a three-year period, starting with the year in which you receive your distribution. For example, if you receive a $9,000 coronavirus-related distribution in 2020, you would report $3,000 in income on your federal income tax return for each of 2020, 2021, and 2022. However, you have the option of including the entire distribution in your income for the year of the distribution.
Q7. May I repay a coronavirus-related distribution?
In general, yes, you may repay all or part of the amount of a coronavirus-related distribution to an eligible retirement plan, provided that you complete the repayment within three years after the date that the distribution was received. If you repay a coronavirus-related distribution, the distribution will be treated as though it were repaid in a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer so that you do not owe federal income tax on the distribution.
If, for example, you receive a coronavirus-related distribution in 2020, you choose to include the distribution amount in income over a 3-year period (2020, 2021, and 2022), and you choose to repay the full amount to an eligible retirement plan in 2022, you may file amended federal income tax returns for 2020 and 2021 to claim a refund of the tax attributable to the amount of the distribution that you included in income for those years, and you will not be required to include any amount in income in 2022. See sections 4.D, 4.E, and 4.F of Notice 2005-92 for additional examples.
Q8. What plan loan relief is provided under section 2202 of the CARES Act?
Section 2202 of the CARES Act permits an additional year for repayment of loans from eligible retirement plans (not including IRAs) and relaxes limits on loans.
- Certain loan repayments may be delayed for one year: If a loan is outstanding on or after March 27, 2020, and any repayment on the loan is due from March 27, 2020, to December 31, 2020, that due date may be delayed under the plan for up to one year. Any payments after the suspension period will be adjusted to reflect the delay and any interest accruing during the delay. See section 5B of Notice 2005-92.
- Loan limit may be increased: The CARES Act also permits employers to increase the maximum loan amount available to qualified individuals. For plan loans made to a qualified individual from March 27, 2020, to September 22, 2020, the limit may be increased up to the lesser of: (1) $100,000 (minus outstanding plan loans of the individual), or (2) the individual’s vested benefit under the plan. See section 5.A of Notice 2005-92.
Q9. How do qualified individuals report coronavirus-related distributions?
If you are a qualified individual, you may designate any eligible distribution as a coronavirus-related distribution as long as the total amount that you designate as coronavirus-related distributions is not more than $100,000 As noted earlier, a qualified individual may treat a distribution that meets the requirements to be a coronavirus-related distribution as such a distribution, regardless of whether the eligible retirement plan treats the distribution as a coronavirus-related distribution.
A coronavirus-related distribution should be reported on your individual federal income tax return for 2020. You must include the taxable portion of the distribution in income ratably over the 3-year period – 2020, 2021, and 2022 – unless you elect to include the entire amount in income in 2020. Whether or not you are required to file a federal income tax return, you would use Form 8915-E (which is expected to be available before the end of 2020) to report any repayment of a coronavirus-related distribution and to determine the amount of any coronavirus-related distribution includible in income for a year. See generally section 4 of Notice 2005-92.
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