How to Tell What Type of Plan Is on Your 1099-R

By: D. Laverne O'Neal

Internal Revenue Service Form 1099-R is the form the administrator of your retirement plan uses to report distributions. Rollover activity is also reported on the 1099-R. The plan custodian sends the IRS the original of Form 1099-R and mails you a copy. Just because a distribution is reported does not necessarily mean it is taxable. You can determine which type of plan is being reported by consulting the appropriate box on the form.

Step 1

Look for the unnumbered box to the right of Box 7 Distribution Codes. The box is labeled IRA/SEP/SIMPLE.

Step 2

Examine the IRA/SEP/SIMPLE box to see if it is marked with an 'X' or a checkmark. If it is marked, the account being reported is either a traditional IRA, a SEP-IRA or a SIMPLE IRA.

Step 3

Look at the code(s) in Box 7. You will see letters, numbers or a combination of the two. Consult the IRS Form 1099-R Instructions Guide to Distribution Codes to discover which letters apply to which type(s) of account. Some letters denote activity in more than one type of retirement account.

Step 4

Decode the letters in Box 7 using these guidelines: Codes B and H pertain to designated Roth accounts, code F to charitable gift annuities, and Code N to an IRA recharacterization. Code Q reports a qualified -- or tax- and penalty-free -- distribution from a Roth. Code S involves a SIMPLE IRA distribution within the first two years of ownership. Code T denotes Roth IRA activity. Code U is used to report dividends from an ESOP, or employee stock ownership plan. As of 2012, the numeral codes -- 1 through 9 -- might apply to nearly any type of retirement plan.

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About the Author

D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.

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