Periodic Payments That Are Generally Equal (SEPP)

Sep 04, 2022 By Susan Kelly

You can withdraw money from your IRA or other qualified retirement plan before you turn 59 1/2 by making SEPPs (substantially equivalent monthly payments). Before reaching that age, individuals are subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty if they withdraw funds from their plan.

A SEPP plan permits the withdrawal of funds without incurring penalties through scheduled yearly installments for five years or until the account holder becomes 5912, whichever comes first. However, there is income tax owed on the withdrawals.

Pension Account

If you have a SEPP plan and are younger than 5912, you are eligible to withdraw money from a retirement account without being charged any fees.

The IRS has created formulas that limit the amount you are permitted to withdraw each year.

You will be responsible for paying all penalties and interest on those amounts that you were able to avoid by terminating your participation in the SEPP plan early.

The best candidates for a SEPP plan are those who need a steady income stream before retiring, perhaps to make up for a job that ended sooner than intended.

Operation of SEPP Plans

Except for a 401(k) maintained at your current employer, any qualifying retirement account can be used with a SEPP plan. The SEPP arrangement is established either directly with an institution or through a financial advisor.

Your required minimum dividend, annuitization, and compounding are the three IRS-approved ways to figure out how much money to withdraw from your SEPP each year. A predetermined yearly payout can be expected from each. The annual withdrawal amount can be adjusted in one of two ways and will remain constant year after year.

The Internal Revenue Service encourages taxpayers to choose a tax approach that is tailored to their own financial circumstances. Over the course of the plan's duration, you may make only one strategy shift. If the plan is terminated before the minimum holding time has expired, the IRS will seek reimbursement for the penalties it abated by not collecting dividends and interest.

The Amortization Method

The annual payment is constant for each program year when calculating withdrawals from the SEPP plan using the amortization approach. According to the IRS, it is computed using the taxpayer's life expectancy and, if appropriate, their beneficiary and a chosen interest rate that is not higher than 120% of the federal mid-term rate.

An Approach to Annuatization

Similar to the amortization strategy, the payout you must accept under the annuitization technique is the same yearly. The amount using an annuity is determined based on the taxpayer's age, the beneficiary's age, and any other relevant considerations under the same IRS regulations that apply to amortization. The IRS supplies a mortality table, which is used to determine the annuity factor.

The Required Minimum Distribution and SEPP

The annual payment for each year is calculated using the required minimum distribution method by dividing the account balance by the life expectancy factors of the taxpayer and their beneficiary, if applicable.

Since this method requires annual adjustments, the annual total will change from year to year. Additionally, compared to the other options, it often produces fewer annual withdrawals.

The Problems with SEPP Plans

A SEPP plan may be useful for anyone who requires or wants early access to retirement savings. The plan might be able to give you a penalty-free monthly income stream in your 40s or 50s to help you get by until the end of your career—and your regular paycheck—and the beginning of other retirement income.

Starting when you turn 59 and 12 years old, you can access your retirement savings whenever you like. You'll be eligible for full Social Security benefits and possibly a defined-benefit pension by the time you're in your late 60s.

SEPP restrictions remain in effect until the earlier of the conclusion of the payment term (after five years) or the IRA owner's attainment of age 59 1/2.For example, an IRA owner who began SEPPs at age 40 must follow the requirements for more than 20 years. However, a person who begins SEPPs at age 58 would only have to do so until age 63. It is vital to remember that these five years are computed beginning on the initial distribution date and ending exactly five years afterward. It continues after the sixth distribution is made.


The plans do, however, also clearly have certain drawbacks. They are first fairly stiff. You must maintain a SEPP plan for the full-time period, which might be for decades if you begin one in your 30s or 40s.

You have very little to no flexibility to alter the fund's yearly withdrawal cap during that time. Aside from the fact that stopping the plan won't be an option because you'll be subject to all the penalties, you avoided by beginning it, plus interest, doing so is unlikely. The same penalty can be applied if you make a mathematical error and fail to make the necessary withdrawals within a certain year

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