Lump-Sum Distributions

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If you receive a lump-sum distribution from a qualified retirement plan or a qualified retirement annuity and the plan participant was born before January 2, 1936, you may be able to elect optional methods of figuring the tax on the distribution. These optional methods can be elected only once after 1986 for any eligible plan participant.

A lump-sum distribution is the distribution or payment, within a single tax year, of a plan participant's entire balance from all of the employer's qualified pension, profit-sharing, or stock bonus plans. All the participants accounts under the employer's qualified pension, profit-sharing, or stock bonus plans must be distributed in order to be a lump-sum distribution.

If the lump-sum distribution qualifies, you can elect to treat the portion of the payment attributable to your active participation in the plan before 1974 as long-term capital gain taxed at a 20% rate. You can also elect to figure the tax on the rest of the distribution using the 10-year tax option. For information on the 10-year tax option, refer to Ten-Year Tax Option for Lump-Sum Distributions.

You should receive a Form 1099-R (PDF) from the payer of the lump-sum distribution showing your taxable distribution and the amount eligible for capital gain treatment. If you do not receive Form 1099-R by February 1, 2005, you should contact the payer of your lump-sum distribution.

You may defer tax on all or part of a lump-sum distribution by requesting that your employer directly roll over the taxable portion into an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA) or to an eligible retirement plan. You can also defer tax on a distribution paid to you by rolling over the taxable amount to an IRA within 60 days after receipt of the distribution. A rollover, however, eliminates the possibility of any future special tax treatment of the distribution. Refer to Rollovers from Retirement Plans for more information on rollovers. Mandatory income tax withholding of 20% applies to most taxable distributions paid directly to you in a lump sum from employer retirement plans regardless of whether you plan to roll over the taxable amount within 60 days.

For more information on the rules for lump-sum distributions, including information on distributions that do not qualify for the 20% capital gain election or the 10-year-tax option, refer to Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income, and to Form 4972 (PDF), Instructions, Tax on Lump-Sum Distributions.


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