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I am planning for ramping up to an early retirement. Ideally, I would like to begin taking a little money out of my IRA's and gradually take more out as I would get older. However, I want to aat all costs avoid paying penalties. The way that the laws work out may influence my present behavior with respect to contributing to which IRA, etc.

Anyway, let's say that I have three different classifications of IRA money:

- tax-deferred contributions and earnings
- Roth contributions
- Roth earnings

Now, it is my understanding that Roth contributions can be taken out at any time, tax and penalty free, and these distributions would not have any effect whatsoever on anything else. Is this accurate? If that is so, I can take all that money out first before taking out the other types.

So, with that out of the way, I know have two different classifications to consider. As I understand it, I can take distributions (without penalty) from the tax-deferred account in some sort of "equal payments" plan. No problem there. The problem comes with determining how the Roth earnings fit into this. Is the basis for determining my account balance include the Roth earnings? If so, must I take distributions from the Roth account as well in "equal proportions", or can I choose to take money only out of the tax-deferred account? If I am forced to take out Roth money in "equal payments", must I pay any penalty (such as paying taxes, which I believe is part of the penalty)? If I only take from the tax deferred account at first, and I end up running out of money there, can I start taking money out of my Roth without penalty?

I probably hve more questions, that I haven't completely thought about yet. Any commentary would be desired.
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