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I have asked this question before and now am really confused. I was under the impression that if I put $2,000 in my 2001 Roth IRA, that money could be accessed by me at any time without penalty (assuming the investment retained its value or grew.) I was told that only the EARNINGS were subjected to taxes and penalties. However, I just read an article at:
http://money.cnn.com/2002/04/23/pf/saving/q_emergency/index.htm
and it said :
"You can't just withdraw contributions from a Roth whenever you feel like it. Your contributions must have been in the account for at least 5 years before you're exempt from penalties. "
"And under IRS rules, contributions can be withdrawn only for specific purposes, like the purchase of your first home, unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of AGI, and qualified higher education expenses, without incurring penalties."

Is this the case??

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