Indirect Rollover

Indirect Rollover

An indirect rollover has to do with assets liquidation in a 401(k) and also the writing of a check for the amount realized in the account holder’s name. The funds must be deposited by the account holder into another 401(k) or an IRA or re-deposit them back into the original 401(k) with a window of 60-day.

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What is an Indirect Rollover?

An Indirect Rollover has to do with liquidation of assets by the administrator of the 401(k) in which a check in the name of the account holder is issued.

At two different times an indirect rollover can take place. First, where an account holder rolls over from a 401(k) into a traditional IRA or Roth IRA while still being employed is called the in-service 401(k) rollover. Secondly, the rollover that takes place when an account holder switches jobs is known as the after service. This can be a rollover into another 401(k) or an IRA.


With a trustee to trustee transfer, there is an option to do a direct rollover. This may or may not involve limitation of underlying assets depending on the trustees that are involved.

To know if an indirect rollover will be right for you, you will have to consider your retirement plan and whether it suits your goal.

Indirect Rollover

How Does an Indirect Rollover Work?

With an Indirect Rollover, the assets will be liquidated by the administrator of the existing 401(K). Then unlike a direct rollover a 20% withholding tax on the amount realized will be deducted by the administrator. Finally, funds will be deposited into the new 401(k) or an IRA by the account holder, depending on whether it is in-service or after-service.

The account holder does not owe taxes if the rollover is directed to another 401(k) or a traditional IRA. Instead, only when the account holder withdraws money from the account in retirement. Therefore, the amount of taxes withheld when filing their annual tax return can be recovered by the account holder. To recover the taxes withheld, a deposit of the whole pre-tax funds into the new 401(k) or traditional IRA.

For instance, the administrator will deduct $10,000 as WHT and give $40,000 to the account holder if the funds in the existing 401(k) is $50,000. The account holder will have to deposit the entire $50,000 into the new 401(k)/or the traditional IRA if he tries to recover his tax withholding.


If only a deposit of the account holder, for instance, $40,000 you will be entitled to $10,000 already paid. However, $10,000 on taxes will still be incur which will how be taken as a distribution or withdrawal. Additionally, an early withdrawal penalty may be incurred.

If a Roth IRA is involved, taxes will be paid on the current funds while later withdrawals from the account will be tax-free.

The account holder in this case does not need to deposit the whole pre-tax funds since they cannot recover the WHT already paid. However, the difference will still be paid between the actual tax liability and the tax withholding to the IRS.


Is an Indirect Rollover Worth it?

During an indirect rollover, these rules and penalties can confuse people up. Many people may opt for the direct rollover option, which is straightforward and simple.

The money goes directly from one account to another with a direct roll over and the account owner never receives it directly, and there is virtually no risk of making a costly mistake.

Indirect Rollover


With an indirect rollover, it allows you to use the money for any purpose during the 60-day grace period if necessary. You know you can pay it back within 60 days, indirect rollovers can be handy if you have an urgent use for the money.

The rules can be tricky and mistakes can cost you. When doing an indirect rollover, It important to proceed with caution.


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