When Can You Take Money out of a Roth IRA?

Not before at least five years of contributing. And then there may be penalties if you don’t meet the eligibility requirements.

Written by Jacqueline DeMarco / June 30, 2022

Quick Bites

  • You have to contribute to your account for at least five years before you can take money out.
  • If you make Roth IRA withdrawals after the age of 59 ½, and after five years of contributing, you won’t run into penalties or taxes.
  • There are some exceptions that can help you avoid a 10% penalty if you want to withdraw before the age of 59 ½.
  • The longer you can keep your contributions in your Roth IRA, the more opportunity your savings have to grow.

So you have a Roth IRA and you want to take money out. There is one hard and fast rule, but otherwise, you can take money out, though you may face certain penalties.[1] If you’re in a rush, and you’ve had your account for less than five years, you’re out of luck. Read on for more insight into what Roth IRAs are, how they work and when the rules surrounding when you can make a withdrawal from your Roth IRA.

Inside this article

  1. What is a Roth IRA?
  2. Withdrawal rules
  3. Contributions
  4. Exceptions
  5. Should you withdraw funds?

What is a Roth IRA?

First things first, it’s important to understand what a Roth IRA is and how this retirement savings vessel works.

A Roth IRA is a type of retirement account that you make to which you contribute after-tax dollars. Your contributions and earnings grow tax-free, and you can withdraw them tax- and penalty-free after age 59½, as long as the account has been open for five years.

Some advantages of Roth IRAs include:

  • The ability to contribute at any age with qualifying income.

  • No mandatory withdrawals, meaning your savings grows even during retirement.

  • There are no income taxes for inherited Roth IRAs.

Roth IRAs are available at credit unions, banks, brokerages and other financial institutions.

A Roth IRA vs. a Traditional IRA

A Roth IRA vs. a Traditional IRA

Knowing the differences between these retirement savings accounts will help you plan whether one or both can help you meet your goals.

Find out more

Rules for withdrawing from your Roth IRA

With Roth IRAs you don’t have to pull out the funds by a certain age. You can keep them invested in your Roth IRA as long as you live.[2]

When you do withdraw, you’ll want to do so with care. If you want to avoid paying taxes on earnings and early withdrawal penalties you need to make a qualified distribution (you get to take money out tax- and penalty-free).

Qualified distributions happen after the age of 59½ and after a five-year holding period. In other words, you can’t make a withdrawal until five years after first contributing to a Roth IRA account without risking paying a 10% penalty.

All of that being said, there are some exceptions to 59½ rule which we’ll break down below. There are no exceptions to the five-year holding period.[3]


You can only contribute to a Roth IRA if you make a certain amount of money. Additionally, contributions are limited.

If your income makes you eligible to contribute (see the chart below for 2022 income limits based on your filing status), you can contribute up to $6,000 a year if you are under the age of 50 or $7,000 a year if you are aged 50 or over.[4]

IRA contribution limits, whether traditional or Roth, were written into law to keep higher income earners from benefiting more from the tax advantages than the average person can, according to Kevin Chancellor, chief executive officer of Black Lab Financial Services, a wealth management firm.[5]

If your filing status is...And your modified AGI is...Then you can contribute...
married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)<$204,000up to the limit
married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)> $204,000 but < $214,000a reduced amount
married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)> $214,000zero
married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the year<$10,000a reduced amount
married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the year>$10,000zero
single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year<$129,000up to the limit
single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year> $129,000 but < $144,000a reduced amount
single, head of household, or married filing separately and you did not live with your spouse at any time during the year> $144,000zero


As previously noted, there are some exceptions to the 59 ½ rule (don’t forget: the five year rule still needs to be met to avoid penalties). You may withdraw funds for:

  • Buy your first home (up to a $10,000 lifetime maximum)

  • Qualified education expenses

  • Qualified expenses related to a birth or adoption

  • Disability or death (your beneficiaries can withdraw the funds)

  • Paying for unreimbursed medical expenses or health insurance if you're unemployed

  • Making distributions in substantially equal periodic payments

“It can definitely make sense to use Roth IRA dollars for a first-time home purchase or college expenses,” Chancellor says. “These exceptions to the rule can avoid both penalties and taxes under certain circumstances.”

Should you withdraw funds?

Even though you can withdraw funds early under certain circumstances, ideally do not touch your Roth IRA contributions or earnings until you’re ready to retire or well into retirement.

“Withdrawing funds from a Roth IRA will be different from person to person depending on their plan and financial situation,” Chancellor says.

“If at all possible, I try to let Roth IRAs grow as long as they can before a person needs the funds," he says. "However, blending tax-free withdrawals from a Roth IRA, along with non-qualified taxable funds, and tax-deferred dollars can be a good way to spread lower overall income tax while a person is retired making their nest egg last longer.”

Article Sources
  1. “What Is a Roth IRA, and Is It Right for Me?” Experian. Aug. 18, 2021. https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-is-a-roth-ira/#:~:text=A%20Roth%20IRA%20is%20an,as%20you%20meet%20certain%20requirements.
  2. “Roth IRAs.” IRS. Nov. 5, 2021. https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/roth-iras
  3. “Roth IRA Withdrawal Rules.” Schwab. https://www.schwab.com/ira/roth-ira/withdrawal-rules
  4. “Retirement Topics - IRA Contribution Limits.” IRS. Nov. 27, 2021. https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/retirement-topics-ira-contribution-limits
  5. “Amount of Roth IRA Contributions That You Can Make for 2022.” IRS. Nov. 5, 2021. https://www.irs.gov/retirement-plans/plan-participant-employee/amount-of-roth-ira-contributions-that-you-can-make-for-2022

About the Author

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline has worked with more than two dozen financial brands, including LendingTree, Capital One, Bankrate, Student Loan Hero, and Northwestern Mutual, providing thoughtful content to give readers insight into complex topics that they likely didn’t learn in school.

Full bio

Related Content