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Form 8915-E For Retirement Plans: A Comprehensive Guide

Susan Kelly

Jan 23, 2024

Form 8915-E plays a crucial role in retirement planning, especially in the context of tax considerations associated with disaster-related retirement plan distributions. Used by taxpayers who had their main home in a presidentially declared disaster area and took a qualified disaster retirement plan distribution or a qualified disaster repayment, it is the instrument through which these situations are reported to the IRS. The ins and outs of this form can be complex, but understanding it can potentially result in significant tax benefits. This guide aims to demystify Form 8915-E and provide a solid foundation for understanding its role in retirement planning.

Understanding Form 8915-E

Form 8915-E is fundamentally a tax form used by individuals who have taken distributions from their retirement savings plans under disaster-related conditions. This form is issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States, and it's important for individuals who live in areas that have been officially declared as disaster areas by the President.

Unlike a typical retirement plan distribution, qualified disaster distributions may not be subject to the standard 10% early withdrawal penalty. However, any such distributions are still subject to income tax. Form 8915-E is filled out by taxpayers to report these types of distributions to the IRS.

The need to understand Form 8915-E arises from the fact that the tax implications of these distributions can be mitigated if managed correctly. For instance, taxpayers may elect to spread the income (and thus the tax liability) evenly over a three-year period, reducing the immediate tax impact. Moreover, repayment of disaster distributions within a three-year time-frame may also result in a refund of any tax paid on the distributed amount.

Ultimately, an improved understanding of Form 8915-E equips you with the knowledge you need to navigate disaster-related retirement plan distributions and their associated tax implications more effectively.

Components of Form 8915-E

Form 8915-E is divided into several sections, each with its unique purpose and requirements.

  1. Part I - Qualified 2020 Disaster Distributions: In this section, you report the total amount of disaster-related distributions you received in 2020. You also calculate the taxable amount of those distributions, which can be spread over a three-year period.
  2. Part II - Repayments of Qualified 2020 Disaster Distributions: This section is for reporting any repayments of qualified disaster distributions. If you repay a part of your distribution, it can potentially reduce the amount that is subject to tax.
  3. Part III - Qualified 2020 Disaster Retirement Plan Loans: Here, you report details of any retirement plan loans you may have taken out due to the disaster. You can also provide information about any loan repayments.
  4. Part IV - Tax on Early Distributions: If you took a distribution before reaching the age of 59 ½, you might be subject to an additional tax. In this part, you calculate that amount and determine whether any exceptions apply.

Remember, it's crucial to fill out each section accurately to avoid potential issues with the IRS. If you're unsure about any parts of Form 8915-E, it can be beneficial to seek professional advice.

Timing and Deadlines for Form 8915-E

Form 8915-E should be filed with your yearly tax return. It’s essential to meet the tax filing deadline to avoid any penalties or late fees. If you received a disaster-related distribution in 2020, you should have filed Form 8915-E by the traditional tax filing deadline: April 15, 2021. If you requested an extension, the deadline would be October 15, 2021.

Tips for Filing Form 8915-E

When filing Form 8915-E, careful attention to detail is paramount to ensure accurate reporting and avoid potential errors. Below are a few tips to guide you through the process:

Review All Documentation

Before you begin filling out Form 8915-E, gather all relevant documents such as statements from your retirement account, records of any disaster-related distributions, and any evidence of repayments made. Reviewing all your documentation beforehand can make the process smoother and more accurate.

Double-Check Your Numbers

Accuracy is crucial when reporting the amounts of your distributions and repayments. Ensure all the figures you enter in each section match the numbers in your documentation.

Consider Professional Help

Form 8915-E can be complex, especially if your financial situation is complicated. Consider enlisting the help of a tax professional who can guide you through the process, ensure you're filing correctly, and help you leverage any applicable tax advantages.

Keep Track of Your Deadlines

Ensure you file Form 8915-E alongside your tax return before the deadline. Late filing can result in penalties and additional interest charges. If you're unsure of the deadline, consult the IRS website or a tax professional.

Understand the Implication of Early Distribution

Before taking an early distribution from your retirement plan, consider its implications. While Form 8915-E provides a way to report such distributions, they often come with tax implications. Therefore, it's advisable to explore all your options before deciding to take an early distribution from your retirement plan.


Form 8915-E plays an integral role in retirement planning, especially for those affected by federally declared disasters. It's crucial to understand this form, know when to use it, and understand how to fill it out correctly. Always remember, if you're unsure or overwhelmed, there's professional help available to make the process easier. Don't let the paperwork deter you from your path towards a secure and comfortable retirement.


Why do I need Form 8915?

Form 8915 is required if you have received disaster-related distributions from your retirement accounts. Filing this form allows you to report these distributions to the IRS, outline any repayments you've made, and manage potential tax liabilities that come with such distributions. This form is an essential part of your tax reporting if you've been affected by a federally declared disaster and have used retirement funds to manage the crisis.

Is Form 8915 available?

Yes, Form 8915 is available and can be downloaded from the IRS website. Depending on the specific disaster and the year you took the distribution, you may need to fill out Form 8915-A, 8915-B, 8915-C, or 8915-D. For distributions related to 2020, you will use the Form 8915-E. Ensure that you're using the correct form relevant to your specific circumstance.

What is IRS Form 8606?

IRS Form 8606 is used by taxpayers to report non-deductible contributions to a traditional IRA or distributions from a Roth IRA. Filing this form allows you to track and report the amounts, ensuring that you're not taxed twice on the same funds. It's also used to report conversions from a traditional, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA to a Roth IRA. It's crucial to accurately complete this form to avoid potential tax issues in the future.

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