401(k) loans are appealing due to the lack of a requirement for good credit, the low interest rates, and the fact that you pay interest to yourself rather than a creditor.
However, if you don’t spend the time to fully comprehend the terms, it might end up costing you more than you anticipated and harming your retirement savings, particularly if you leave your job or are fired before you pay it back in full.
The Great Resignation has seen millions of workers quit. In fact, 25. Within the second half of 2021, 6 million people will have left their jobs. ¹.
A recent ResumeBuilder. According to a com report, one-fourth of workers are looking for work this year. ².
It’s crucial that you are aware of the regulations up front if you have a 401(k) loan now or are considering getting one in the future and anticipate leaving your job soon.
Because you must pay off the outstanding balance much sooner than you had anticipated in order to avoid penalties and taxes
The Cost of Leaving a Job with a 401(k) Loan
It makes no difference if you leave voluntarily or are fired You have to pay back the 401(k) loan in full.
Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), borrowers of 401(k) loans have until the filing deadline for your tax return to make repayment. Before this, borrowers had 60 days to repay loans.
As a result, if you lost your job in March 2021 and the unpaid loan was distributed, you would have until Monday, April 18, 2022 (the deadline for filing your tax return) to repay the loan in full.
The loan will be regarded as an early withdrawal if the entire outstanding balance is not paid by this date, and the remaining loan balance will be regarded as a taxable distribution.
In addition, you will also be responsible for paying income taxes on the remaining loan balance and a 10% federal tax penalty if you are under the age of 5912.
Don’t Forget the Opportunity Costs
As you can see, quitting a job before paying back your 401(k) loan can be expensive.
If you can’t afford to settle the balance before the subsequent tax filing deadline, you might be forced to take on additional credit card debt or deplete your emergency savings.
Thus, the purpose of taking out the loan in the first place is defeated.
This is why we caution our clients against treating their 401(k)s like banks because borrowing now could have detrimental effects on their ability to retire later.
You need all the retirement savings you can get because social security’s future is uncertain and healthcare costs are rising.
Regular contributions are frequently prohibited in 401(k) plans until the loan is repaid.
As a result of losing out on compounded earnings, taking out a 401(k) loan could have a significant negative impact on your future 401(k) balance if your plan contains this clause.
You won’t receive the additional funds if your employer provides company matching.
On top of that, there are tax implications. You won’t be able to deduct the pretax income you would have invested in your 401(k) if you are unable to contribute.
You run the risk of not being able to afford contributions while paying off the 401(k) loan, even if your plan permits you to make regular contributions.
That’s a lot of missed retirement savings.
And finally, if you must remain with your employer until the loan is fully repaid, taking out a 401(k) loan may force you to stay in a job you detest.
4 Ways to Pay Off a 401(k) Loan Faster
Here are a few steps you can take right now to pay off your loan quickly if you have a 401(k) loan and are prepared to leave your job but want to avoid penalties and taxes:
#1 Round Up Payments
Always round up your payments to the next hundred (or thousand). Round up your payments to $500 if you pay $420 monthly. If you continue doing this for a full year, you will have paid an additional $960 and reduced the loan term by just over two months.
#2 Make Extra Payments
Monthly extra payments are the quickest way to reduce the balance and pay off your 401(k) loan in full. If you are unable to do so, make larger quarterly payments instead.
#3 Use Your Tax Refund
Apply the entire amount of any refund you receive this year to the balance of your 401(k) loans. Even if you only receive $200 back, the additional payment will help.
#4 Tap Into Your Savings
While leaving your job as soon as possible (especially if it’s for one that pays more) is not the best course of action, it might make sense to do so in order to avoid penalties and taxes. Just be sure to return the funds as soon as you can.
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How long do I have to pay back a 401k loan after leaving job?
If you have borrowed money from your employer’s 401(k) plan and intend to leave, you should be aware that most company plans demand repayment of the loan within 60 days, failing which they will distribute the balance due from your 401(k) account.
Can I cash out my 401k if I quit my job and have a loan?
You can cash out your net outstanding balance less any unpaid 401(k) loan if you leave your job or are fired.
Can I transfer 401k loan to new employer?
You can take out a new loan and use the proceeds to pay off the previous loan if the new employer permits new hires to take out 401(k) loans. Additionally, you could transfer your 401(k) to the new employer’s 401(k) and use the retirement funds as collateral for a loan.