How Do I Tap My IRA?

If you're 59½ or older, follow these steps to access your money.

I’m about to turn 59½ and would like to withdraw money from a traditional IRA to pay my daughter’s college tuition. I’ve been focusing on adding to the account for all of these years. What do I need to do to finally start taking money out?

Once you reach the magic age of 59½, you may withdraw money from your IRA for any reason penalty-free. Your withdrawals from a traditional IRA will be taxed (unlike withdrawals from a tax-free Roth), and you’ll be given the option to have the taxes withheld when the money is distributed.

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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.