What is a Rollover IRA?

One way to take control of your retirement savings is to roll over your plan from a former employer.

A Rollover IRA is

A Rollover IRA is an account that allows you to move funds from your prior employer-sponsored retirement plan into an IRA. With an IRA rollover, you can preserve the tax-deferred status of your retirement assets, without paying current taxes or early withdrawal penalties at the time of transfer. A Rollover IRA can provide a wider range of investment choices that may meet your goals and risk tolerance, including stocks, bonds, CDs, ETFs, and mutual funds.

What can you do with an old 401(k)?

3 Reasons to consider a Schwab Rollover IRA

  • Pay no annual fees

    Unlike most plans, with a Schwab Rollover IRA, there are no account open or maintenance fees. Other account fees, fund expenses, and brokerage commissions may apply.1

  • Get the help you need

    A Schwab Rollover Consultant can assist with all the paperwork, help you transfer your assets from start to finish, and provide expert guidance on your many investing options.

  • Access 24/7 help and support

    Talk to a Schwab investment professional any time for help with your investments.

How to rollover a prior employer sponsored plan (401K, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA)

Complete your rollover to an IRA in three easy steps.

  • Step

    Open your Rollover IRA

    You can apply online or consult a Schwab Rollover Consultant.

  • Step

    Fund your account

    Be sure that when you distribute your funds, you request a direct rollover to avoid incurring any tax implications.

  • Step

    Invest your funds

    Compare your current investments with your new range of options to ensure you're set up to meet your financial goals.

Common questions

A rollover is when you move funds from one eligible retirement plan to another, such as from a 401(k) to a Rollover IRA. Rollover distributions are reported to the IRS and may be subject to federal income tax withholding. See the question below around direct and indirect rollovers to understand both options and their tax consequences. 

A transfer of assets is when you instruct your retirement account provider to move funds directly between two accounts of the same type, such as from one Traditional IRA to another Traditional IRA. Transfers can take place as often as you like. They are not reported to the IRS because you never take possession of your money.

There are no fees to open or maintain a Rollover IRA at Schwab. You only pay fees for transactions you make in the account, such as trading stocks, or for investments you hold in the account, such as operating expenses on mutual funds. See the Charles Schwab Pricing Guide for Individual Investors and its amendments for comprehensive details on fees.

Eligible employer-sponsored retirement plans are those that you receive qualifying distributions from, and include 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, profit-sharing plans, money purchase plans, and Keoghs/Qualified Retirement Plans (QRPs). 

Plans that may not be eligible include employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) and defined benefit plans. 

You may be allowed to roll over after-tax dollars and governmental 457(b) qualifying distributions. Contact your plan administrator(s) to find out if your particular plan is eligible for rollover.

With a direct rollover from an employer-sponsored plan to an IRA, the administrator of your plan delivers your distribution directly to the financial provider where your Rollover IRA is held. Since you never actually take possession of your assets, there is no mandatory 20% federal tax withholding. 

With an indirect rollover, you do receive the assets from your employer-sponsored plan, and roll over either all or a portion of the assets into another eligible plan within 60 days of receiving the distribution. Your employer may be required to withhold 20% for federal income tax. However, you can recover the deduction if you roll over the amount you received from your prior employer plus the 20% that was deducted. You will receive the refund in the form of a tax credit when you file your tax return.

If your employer sends you a rollover distribution check made payable to you, you can deposit it directly into your Rollover IRA. Be sure to write your Schwab Rollover IRA account number on the check and deposit it within 60 days to avoid taxes and penalties.

Your plan administrator may have withheld 20% for federal income tax. You can recover the deduction if you roll over the amount you received from your prior employer plus the 20% that was deducted. 

Please see IRS Publication 590 or talk with your tax advisor for more details.

Call a Schwab Rollover Consultant at 866-855-5635 and we will work with your former plan administrator to make sure your retirement savings are rolled over properly. Please talk with your tax advisor for details about your specific situation.

Yes, you are responsible for tracking your tax basis. All rollovers are tax-reportable events on IRS Form 1099-R for the distributed amount and Form 5498 for the contributed (rollover) amount.

Yes, but if you do, you may not be able to roll the IRA into a new employer-sponsored retirement plan. Different plans determine which assets, if any, will be accepted. If you think you might start a new job in the future, you should check with your new employer regarding their plan's rules.

A rollover of retirement plan assets to an IRA is not your only option.

A rollover of retirement plan assets to an IRA is not your only option. Carefully consider all of your available options which may include but not be limited to keeping your assets in your former employer's plan; rolling over assets to a new employer's plan; or taking a cash distribution (taxes and possible withdrawal penalties may apply). Prior to a decision, be sure to understand the benefits and limitations of your available options and consider factors such as differences in investment related expenses, plan or account fees, available investment options, distribution options, legal and creditor protections, the availability of loan provisions, tax treatment, and other concerns specific to your individual circumstances.

Take the next step

We're here to help