What Is Gross Distribution?

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Whether you tap your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement fund for cash during your working years, or receive the payouts from the fund required at retirement age, the IRS labels the withdrawal a "distribution." At the end of the year, your account manager sends you a federal 1099 form with information about your distributions. The form shows the gross distribution -- the total amount you withdrew -- in Box 1.

Gross Distribution

The amount your IRA manager deposited in your bank account may be smaller than your gross distribution. If the manager had to take out withholding, for instance, you don't see that money, but it's still counted in Box 1. The gross distribution may not be the taxable distribution, which is identified in Box 2a. If you take money out of a Roth IRA, for instance, it isn't usually taxable. The 1099 reports the Roth gross distribution in Box 1, but not in Box 2a.

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