During the first two years after the SIMPLE IRA is established, assets held in the SIMPLE must not be transferred or rolled to another retirement plan. This two-year period, to which you refer in your question, begins the first day the employer deposits a contribution to the SIMPLE. Distributions that happen during the two-year period are subjected to an early-distribution penalty of 25% if the SIMPLE IRA owner is under age 59.5 at the time of the distribution.

However, the two-year waiting period does not apply to transfers or rollovers between two SIMPLE IRAs.

Therefore, the employee who is no longer with the employer that sponsored the SIMPLE may either leave the assets in the SIMPLE at the current financial institution or have the assets transferred, or rolled over, to a SIMPLE at another financial institution until the two-year waiting period is over. Under the SIMPLE requirements, an employer must allow an employee to hold his/her assets at another financial institution.

To establish a SIMPLE IRA for the employee, most financial institutions will require that the SIMPLE IRA owner (the employee) complete his/her SIMPLE IRA adoption agreement and will also require a copy of the Form 5304-SIMPLE or Form 5305-SIMPLE that the employer completed to establish the SIMPLE IRA. Once the new account has been established, the transfer can happen.

After the two-year period, the employee may move assets in a SIMPLE to another eligible retirement plan by means of a transfer, a rollover (including a direct rollover) or a Roth conversion.

To learn more, see SIMPLE IRA Tutorial, Moving Your Plan Assets? and Rollovers Of After-Tax Assets May Change The Landscape Of Your IRA.

This question was answered by Denise Appleby
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