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Articles | Voluntary Contribution Program (VCP): Withdrawal Options for CSRS and CSRS-Offset Employees (Part 2 . . .
Voluntary Contribution Program (VCP): Withdrawal Options for CSRS and CSRS-Offset Employees
(Part 2 of 2)
A previous column discussed
the Voluntary Contribution Program (VCP) including which CSRS and CSRS-Offset
employees are eligible to participate and how much employees can contribute to
the VCP. This column discusses the withdrawal options from a participant's VCP
account and the tax consequences for each withdrawal option.
There are three options available to a VCP participant for withdrawing his or
her account. They are:
1. request a lump sum payment of all contributions and accrued
2. request a lump sum payment of all contributions together with a
request to directly transfer all accrued interest to either a traditional IRA or
to the participant's TSP account; or
3. request a VCP annuity. The VCP annuity is in addition to the
participant's regular CSRS annuity that the annuitant is receiving.
Let's take a look at the three options.
An employee may withdraw all voluntary contribution together with all accrued
interest at any time before receiving a VCP annuity. The withdrawal is not
subject to the spousal notification requirements that apply to requested refunds
of regular CSRS retirement contributions. If the employee plans to make the
withdrawal prior to retirement, the employee must notify OPM of his or her
decision by completing and submitting to his or her employing office Form SF
2802 or RI 38-124.
If the employee dies while an employee in federal service, or after
separation from service but before receiving the first CSRS annuity check, the
entire VCP account - including all contributions and accrued interest - will be
paid in a lump sum payment to the person or persons entitled under the normal
order of precedence. Note that OPM normally pays any remaining monies in a VCP
account in a lump sum payment to the person or persons entitled under the normal
order of precedence if the annuitant and any designated survivor annuitant die
without having received the total amount of the VCP account (including unpaid
interest) as annuity payments. A CSRS or CSRS Offset employee can designate
beneficiaries of the lump sum payment on form SF 2808.
Since all contributions were made to an employee's VCP account with
"after-taxed" dollars, a lump sum payment of the employee's VCP contributions
are not taxable. But any accrued interest in a VCP account is taxable in the tax
year in which the interest is received unless the interest is directly
transferred by OPM to the retiring employee's designated traditional IRA or to
the retiring employee's TSP account.
If the VCP account owner receives a lump sum payment of the entire VCP
account before he or she attains age 59.5, then the interest portion is
generally subject to federal and, if applicable, state income taxes and to an
additional IRS 10 percent early distribution tax. Exceptions to the 10 percent
tax early distribution tax are:
- payment resulting from disability;
- monthly annuity payments elected at the time of retirement.
- payment after separation from service if the separation accrued during or
after the year in which the recipient attains age 55; or
- payment to survivors after the death of the employee or annuitant.
The early distribution tax is calculated by multiplying 10 percent times the
amount of interest paid as part of the lump sum VCP payment.
Interest refunded and directly paid to the VCP account owner is subject to
mandatory 20 percent federal income tax withholding. To avoid being taxed on the
accrued interest and assuming the total interest in the VCP account is at least
$200, the account owner can elect to have OPM directly transfer all of
the accrued interest to a traditional IRA or to a qualified retirement plan such
as a 401(k) plan or the TSP. But a direct payment to the account owner will not
avoid the mandatory federal income withholding tax, even if the account owner
chooses to deposit the interest payment in an eligible traditional IRA or to the
TSP within 60 days of receiving the interest payment.
VCP account owners can request to directly transfer the interest at the time
they submit their election to receive a lump sum VCP payment. This request is
made on form SF 2802 or RI 38-124.
Here are two examples to illustrate:
Robert, age 51, needs the funds in his
VCP account to make a downpayment on a house. He files form SF 2802 with his
employing agency in February 2009 and receives a refund from OPM of $46,795 in
April 2009. The $46,795 consists of $40,000 of voluntary contributions Robert's
VCP account has accumulated $6,795 of accrued interest.
1. The $6,795 accrued interest is taxable income to Robert during
2. Since Robert received the refund before he attained age 59.5, he
does not meet one of the exceptions for not paying the 10 percent early
distribution tax on the interest received because he separated from service
before age 55.
3. OPM will withhold the mandatory 20 percent federal income tax of
$1,359 (20 percent of $6,795. Robert is responsible for paying the 10 percent
early distribution tax when he files his 2009 federal income taxes.
If Robert did not need the interest income, he could have elected to have
OPM directly transfer all of the accrued interest into a traditional IRA and in
so doing, avoid paying pay federal and state income taxes and a 10 percent early
distribution tax on the $6,795 of accrued interest.
Albert retires voluntarily on June 1, 2009 at age 57. Albert has a VCP
account with a balance of $67,250 as of his retirement date. The $67,250
consists of $60,000 of voluntary contributions and $7,250 of accrued
1. Shortly before Albert retires, he has the following options:
· receive a full refund of his entire VCP account;
· receive a refund of his VCP account contributions and request a direct
transfer of the $7,250 of interest to his traditional IRA rollover account or to
his TSP account; or
· receive a VCP account annuity (see below).
Albert elects a refund of his VCP account with a direct transfer of the
accrued interest to his TSP account.
2. The accrued interest of $7,250 is not taxable income because Albert
requested OPM to directly transfer the interest via Form RI 38-124 or SF 2802 to
his TSP account.
3. Since Albert's contribution of $60,000 to his VCP account was with
"after-taxed" dollars, he will not be taxed on his lump sum payment of $60,000.
Albert also avoided paying taxes on the accrued interest by directing
transferring the interest to his TSP account. Had he not transferred the accrued
interest he would have avoided the 10 percent early distribution tax because he
retired from federal service when he was older than age
Another option for VCP account owners who are eligible is to directly
transfer all VCP contributions to an existing nondeductible traditional IRA.
Identical to nondeductible traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs are also funded with
"after-taxed" dollars. But unlike nondeductible IRAs in which earnings are taxed
when withdrawn, any earnings within a Roth IRA grow tax-free because all
withdrawals from a Roth IRA - contributions and accrued earnings - are tax free.
An individual may be eligible to convert a nondeductible IRA to a Roth IRA. Once
monies go into a Roth IRA, the monies grow tax-free.
To convert a nondeductible (traditional) IRA to a Roth IRA in which some of
the converted monies in the nondeductible IRA originate from the VCP, a VCP
account owner must:
- have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $100,000 during 2009.
But starting Jan. 1, 2010 the $100,000 is no longer in effect, meaning that
any individual with a traditional IRA (deductible and nondeductible) may convert
that IRA to a Roth IRA;
- file his or her taxes using any filing status except married filing
separately. This restriction will be eliminated as of Jan. 1, 2010; and
- own at least one nondeductible traditional IRA;
To take advantage of a Roth IRA conversion from a VCP account and assuming
the three conditions just given are met, the VCP account owner should:
- first instruct OPM- via Form 2802 or RI 38-124 - to directly transfer any
accrued interest in the VCP account to the TSP; and
- file TSP Form 60 and have any earnings in any nondeductible IRA(s) and the
entire balance of any deductible (traditional) IRA(s) the VCP participant owns,
directly transferred to the VCP participant's TSP account; in so doing, the IRA
owner will not have to pay taxes upon converting the nondeductible IRA to the
Roth IRA; then
- have OPM directly transfer all VCP contributions to an existing
nondeductible IRA and then convert the nondeductible IRA to a Roth
If these requirements are fulfilled, then any future earnings in the
converted Roth IRA can be withdrawn tax free after five years starting from the
day the VCP account contributions are transferred and converted to a Roth IRA.
Here is an example to illustrate.
Ann, age 59, retired from federal service on Aug. 1, 2009. She had
contributed $40,000 to her VCP account. At the time of her retirement there was
$2,375 of accrued interest in her account. Ann completed Form RI 38 -124 in
order to directly transfer the accrued interest to her TSP account and directly
transfer the $40,000 of VCP contributions to her existing nondeductible
traditional IRA. Sometime during 2010, when there will be no income limitation
for converting nondeductible traditional IRAs into a Roth IRA, Ann
directly transfers any earnings in her nondeductible IRA in 2010
into her TSP account. In so doing, Ann will be left with already taxed
monies in her nondeductible traditional IRA. In converting what is left in her
nondeductible traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, Ann will not have to pay taxes.
This is because a nondeductible traditional IRA is always funded with monies
that have already been taxed.
An employee may elect to receive a lifetime VCP annuity based on the
employee's voluntary contributions and accrued interest. An employee who
transferred to FERS from CSRS (a "TransFERS") may also receive a VCP annuity
based on his or her contributions to the VCP prior to transferring to FERS and
The amount of the VCP annuity is determined as follows:
1. Each $100 in the VCP account - that includes both principal and interest -
provides an annual annuity payment of $7.00. The annuity increases 20 cents per
year for each full year the retiree is over age 55 at the time the annuity
begins. Here are two examples.
Martha, age 60, has a VCP account balance of $20,000 at the time she
retires . She decides to receive the VCP annuity.
60 years minus 55 years = 5 years
0.20 x 5 years = $1.00
$7 + $1 = $8
$20,000/$100 = $200
$200 x $8 = $1,600 additional
Martha will receive a VCP annuity equal to $1,600 per
Peter is 55 when he retires under CSRS and has a VCP account balance of
$100,000 at the time he retires.
$100,000/$100 = $1,000
$1,000 x $7 = $7,000 additional
Any additional annuity purchased by voluntary contributions
continues to be paid as long as the individual remains alive. Once the
annuity begins, the annuity is not increased by any cost-of-living (COLA)
At retirement, the employee may elect a reduction in his or her VCP annuity
in order to purchase a survivor annuity. Any person - related or unrelated - to
the employee may be designated. The person to be named does not have to be the
same person designated as the survivor annuitant for the regular CSRS
If the retiring employee does not designate on Form RI 38-124 or SF 2802 that
he or she is electing to receive a refund of voluntary contributions, then OPM
assumes the retiring employee is electing the VCP annuity. OPM also assumes that
the election of a survivor benefit on the retirement application also applies to
the VCP annuity. The retiring employee must attach a note to the application
stating that he or she does not want a survivor benefit in connection with the
additional annuity or wants to designate a different person to receive a
If the retiring employee elects a survivor annuity for the VCP annuity, then
his or her VCP annuity will be reduced. The reduction in the VCP annuity depends
on the difference in the ages between the retiree and the designated survivor,
as shown in the following table.
Age of Person Named in Relation to that of
the Retiring Employee (years
Reduction in Annuity of Retiring Employee
Older, same as or less than 5
5 but less than 10
10 but less than 15
15 but less than 20
20 but less than 25
25 but less than 30
30 or more
The survivor annuity is equal to 50 percent of the retiree's reduced
additional annuity, as illustrated by the following example:
An employee retires at age 60 with a VCP account equal to $160,000 at the
time of retirement. The employee's spouse is age 54, six years younger than the
employee . A VCP annuity without survivor annuity is equal
$160,000/$100 x $8.00 = $12,800 per
A VCP annuity with a survivor annuity is
computed as follows:
$12,800 x 15 percent = $1,920 (cost of
survivor annuity benefit)
$12,800 minus $1,920 = $10,880 (net VCP annuity after
survivor annuity benefit is deducted)
The survivor annuity benefit is equal
= $10,880 x 50 percent = $5,440 per
The reduction of the annuity is permanent if the employee elects
to provide a survivor annuity. The reduction will not be eliminated if
the designated survivor predeceases the retiree, nor can the survivor annuity be
transferred to a different person.
Any remaining monies left in the VCP account at the death of the annuitant
will be paid in a lump sum payment to a designated beneficiary(s) in the event
that there is no survivor annuity. Beneficiaries may be designated on form SF
Those individuals who choose to receive the additional annuity will have
their annuity payments taxed according to the IRS' Simplified Rule. Information
about the Simplified Rule may be found in IRS Publication 721, downloadable from
the IRS' website at http://www.irs.gov .
About the Author
Edward A. Zurndorfer is a Certified Financial Planner and Enrolled Agent in
Silver Spring, Maryland. He is also a registered representative with
Multi-Financial Securities Corporation (Branch A9X), member FINRA/SIPC, also
located in Silver Spring, Maryland