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Greetings, Desanti, and welcome. You asked:

<<are 401k,s and ira,s the same as far as the IRS is concerned?my main concern is the minimum distribution parameters.they are explicit using IRS literature.however i am not so sure of 401k,s.i was e-mailed and told to post on this board. >>

There's a slight difference in when you may retire and take money without penalty between the two. In an IRA, you must wait to retire until age 59 1/2 to take money without penalty unless you use "substantially equal periodic payments (SEPP)." In a retirement plan like a 401k, as long as you retire from the employer providing that plan in the year you reach age 55, then you may take money from that plan free of the early withdrawal penalty. Leave the company before that the year you reach age 55, and you must wait until age 59 1/2. The SEPP rules for IRA and plans like a 401k are the same. That means that if you use that exception, you must do so for the longer of five years or until you reach age 59 1/2.

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