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From IRS Pub 575:

Tax on Early Distributions
Most distributions (both periodic and nonperiodic) from
qualified retirement plans and nonqualified annuity con-
tracts made to you before you reach age 59 1/2 are subject
to an additional tax of 10%. This tax applies to the part of
the distribution that you must include in gross income. It
does not apply to any part of a distribution that is tax free,
such as amounts that represent a return of your cost or
that were rolled over to another retirement plan. It also
does not apply to corrective distributions of excess defer-
rals, excess contributions, or excess aggregate contribu-
tions (discussed earlier under Taxation of Nonperiodic
For this purpose, a qualified retirement plan is:
A qualified employee plan (including a qualified cash
or deferred arrangement (CODA) under Internal Reve-
nue Code section 401(k))


Additional exceptions for qualified retirement plans.
The tax does not apply to distributions that are:
From a qualified retirement plan (other than an IRA)
after your separation from service in or after the year
you reached age 55 (age 50 for qualified public safety
employees) (see Separation from service , later),

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