Tapping a Roth IRA for a House

You can withdraw contributions from a Roth IRA to help purchase your first home.

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I am 28 and want to buy my first home. I’ve had a Roth IRA for four years. Can I withdraw money from the Roth for a down payment without penalty or taxes?

Answer: You can withdraw contributions from a Roth IRA at any time without taxes or penalties, and your first withdrawals are considered to be from contributions. After that, you can withdraw up to $10,000 in earnings from your Roth for a first-time home purchase without penalty, but you’ll have to pay taxes on the earnings unless you’ve had a Roth IRA for at least five years.

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Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.