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I understand that if you want to cash out your HSA you are expected to pay tax and some penalty on that money. The tax part I understand. But what is this penalty exactly and how much would it be? And if a person is leaving the country permanently why should they have to pay penalty for withdrawing their own contributions from the HSA? Can it be avoided? Just curious. Thanks.

marked as duplicate by Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica, JTP - Apologise to Monica Dec 16 '15 at 2:56

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  • Leaving which country? Tax questions require a country tag. – Chris W. Rea Dec 16 '15 at 1:47
  • "why should they have to pay penalty for withdrawing their own contributions" - because 1. it was tax-free income you put there, and 2. you might have a lower tax bracket now than when you put it there. So for 1. you have to pay the taxes now, and for 2. you pay a flat 20% penalty, just in case (which could still be a deal) – Aganju Dec 24 '15 at 2:59
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Looks like it is a 20% penalty on the withdrawal (along with income tax).

Funds can be withdrawn for any reason, but withdrawals that are not for documented qualified medical expenses are subject to income taxes and a 20% penalty. The 20% tax penalty is waived for persons who have reached the age of 65 or have become disabled at the time of the withdrawal. Then, only income tax is paid on the withdrawal

Wikipedia HSA article

Even though you are leaving the country, you still earned and contributed to the plan while you were working/living, so it is still subject to the taxes/laws in place.

On a somewhat related note, check out this question here, as it may help you out a bit (similar but not really duplicate) - How do I withdraw all money from my HSA account as a non-resident?

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