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My wife & I are 28 and plan on purchasing our first home in the next 1-3 years. Right now our assets are in two places:

  • 403-b that I will not touch for the next 30+ years
  • FDIC-insured savings account earning 1% interest

I have the option to start a Roth IRA account under a fund that offers a guaranteed 3% return. My understanding of Roth IRAs is limited, but I understand that first time home buyers can withdraw $10,000 ($20,000 joint) to purchase a new home. However, are there any restrictions to taking this money out? It's unclear to me if a 5-year "seasoning" period applies to first time homebuyers (ie. would we incur a 10% penalty for withdrawing up to $10,000 ($20,000 joint) on a Roth IRA that is less than 5 years old?)

Thanks for Alex B for suggesting that I migrate this question from here.

2 Answers 2

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Roth IRAs divide your withdrawal into 3 categories: Contributions, Conversions, and Earnings.

This is significant, because each have different tax consequences and the order of withdrawal is dictated by tax law.

  • Contributions - First to be withdrawn. This is the money you invested and has already had taxes paid on it. No taxes will need to be paid on it.
  • Conversions - Second to be withdrawn. This is money converted from a traditional IRA and does sound like it applies in your question.
  • Earnings - Last to be withdrawn. This is investment gain made from contributions and conversions.

You can withdraw your contributions in less than 5 years for any reason (home buyer or not).

You cannot withdraw your conversions or earnings without waiting 5 years unless you pay the 10% penalty. The home buyer exemption is only after the 5 years are met.

Further detail: home purchase exemption, withdraw contributions, early withdrawal penalties.

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You may withdraw your contributions to a Roth IRA at any time for any reason without penalty.

Any gains you withdraw may be subject to tax or penalties though, but there is a $10,000 exclusion (from the 10% penalty, not the taxes) for a first time home purchase.

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  • Good information, but doesn't answer the question about the seasoning period.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 0:20

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