Here’s a reader question about tracking Roth IRA contributions is previous years (slightly paraphrased for clarity) that I answered to the best of my ability, but perhaps there is a better solution out there.
I am looking to make a withdraw of my Roth IRA contribution that I made
prior to 5 years to avoid taxes and penalties. My question is:
How do I find out how much and when I made contributions?
This will tell me how much I can withdraw without taxes or penalties. I am also only age 50. Thank you!
My initial answer was to look at past income tax returns, as that should provide a good record of your Roth IRA contribution history. However, since Roth IRA contributions do not affect your tax liability, they likely aren’t listed directly on the tax return. Going through my own old returns, I found my contributions noted in a supporting document called a Roth IRA Carryover Worksheet. In addition, your IRA broker (trustee) should send an IRS Form 5498 (PDF) showing the amount of your contribution each year. If you’re really lucky, perhaps your broker has records for previous years.
If you don’t have access to old returns or the proper supporting documents, you can ask the IRS for a copy. There are two options:
- Request a tax return transcript. A transcript is not a direct copy of your actual return, but includes most of the line items of a 1040 Form going back up to 10 years. It is free and can be done online, via mail, or over the phone. However, as noted above the return itself may not include Roth IRA contribution information. Update: Form 4506-T does allow you to request Form 5498 transcripts, which should include IRA contribution data.
- Request an exact copy of your tax return and all attachments. This option gives you an exact copy of a previously filed and processed tax return and all attachments. You must complete Form 4506 (PDF) and include a check for $57 for each year requested. Copies are generally available for returns filed in the current and past six years. Would Form 5498 be an included attachment? I’m not sure.
Any better suggestions?
By Jonathan Ping | Taxes | 12/9/11, 5:00am