IRA owners can make penalty-free distributions to buy a first home for themselves, their spouses, children, grandchildren or other family members. This distribution cannot exceed $10,000 for each spouse's lifetime, and exempts IRA owners from the early-distribution penalty (which applies to distributions occuring before an IRA owner reaches age 59.5). You do not have to buy a pre-existing home in order to be eligible for the waiver. The waiver also applies to building or rebuilding a home.

The distribution received must be used to pay qualified acquisition costs before the end of the 120th day after the IRA owner receives the distributed assets.

According to the IRS, you are a first-time home buyer if you have not owned an interest in a principal residence during the first two years prior to the purchase of a new home. Principal residences include mobile homes and house trailers, houseboats and stock held by a tenant-stockholder in a cooperative housing corporation.

For more insight, see Tax Treatment Of Roth IRA Distributions.

This question was answered by Denise Appleby
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