I’m looking at a job opportunity that has a deferred compensation plan that complies with section 409A of the tax code. I’m wondering if I got this job, worked there for a few years, and then voluntarily left the job how much of the distribution would I lose to taxes, given that I elected to have it distributed in a lump sum upon separation of service?
Distributions to employees from nonqualified deferred compensation plans are considered
wages subject to income tax upon distribution. Since nonqualified distributions are subject
to income taxes, these amounts should be included in amounts reported on Form W-2
in Box 1, Wages, Tips, and Other Compensation. Most states follow the federal rules for
reporting distributions from deferred compensation plans, please consult local regulations.
You don't "lose" it like a traditional 401K ... instead all the distributions are treated like wages on a tax return ... there are no "penalties" like other retirement plans but there are restrictions ... the IRS link above mentions those. Talk to the plan administrator for more information if needed.
I know it's been close to 2 years since you asked, but maybe this will still help or help someone else.
I am not a tax lawyer or anything similar. This is only my understanding of the situation, so confirm it for your personal circumstances. Don't count on my answer.
I just looked in to this because I have a benefit from a 409a plan. I am retired, but I don't think that matters. Certain events trigger a payment, separation from service being one of these possible events. When you get that payment, this amount will be reported on a W-2 or a 1099-MISC. Either way, it is added to income. Since you pay tax on it as ordinary income, the amount going to taxes is based on your marginal tax rate. A large distribution, like any other increase in income, might be taxed more, depending on whether that distribution pushes your AGI into a higher tax bracket.