“If you leave your job while you have an outstanding 401(k) loan, Uncle Sam now gives you extra time to repay it -- thanks to the new tax law.”
Kiplinger’s article titled “Ex-Workers Get More Time to Repay 401(k) Loans” explains that the new tax law extended the deadline for repayment after you leave your job, starting in 2018.
In the past, you typically had just 60 days to repay the loan. Otherwise, you’d be required to pay income taxes on the money as if it was a withdrawal (and a 10% early-withdrawal penalty, if you left your job before age 55).
However, with the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, you don’t have to pay taxes or the penalty, if you repay the loan by the due date of your tax return for the year when you leave your job (including extensions).
Therefore, if you leave your job in 2019, you’d have until April 15, 2020, to repay the loan (or October 15, 2020, if you file an extension). However, using the extended time frame to repay could lead to complications, if you’d like to roll over your 401(k) balance to a new employer’s plan.
You can generally borrow up to 50% of your 401(k) balance, but no more than $50,000.
Most plans charge the prime rate plus 1% point for the loan. As of February, that would add up to 6.50%.
You typically have five years to pay back the loan, while you’re still working for that employer or longer if the 401(k) loan is to buy your primary residence. Most plans give employees 10 to 15 years to repay a loan for a primary residence, but some plans have deadlines as short as five years or as long as 30 years.
If you do take a 401(k) loan, try to keep contributing to your 401(k), while you’re paying back the loan. That way you can continue to get any employer match and to minimize the hit to your long-term savings.
You borrow your own money and pay the interest back into your account. However, you’ll lose the opportunity for investment gains on the borrowed money, while it’s out of the account.
Just because you had to take a loan, is no reason to forget about saving for retirement and earning an employer match.
Reference: Kiplinger (February 13, 2019) “Ex-Workers Get More Time to Repay 401(k) Loans”