If you become an inactive participant by leaving legislative service, you may request a refund of your GARS contributions. If the contribution refund is issued directly to you, the funds are subject to federal withholding and considered taxable income in the year you receive them. Alternatively, you can rollover your taxable contributions to another qualified plan or IRA.
If You Leave Your Contributions in GARS
- You must have eight years of service under GARS to qualify for a pension.
- You may use service in other reciprocal systems to qualify for a pension under the Retirement Systems’ Reciprocal Act.
If You Have Your Contributions Refunded
- You will receive no interest on your contributions.
- You will forfeit all rights to GARS benefits for yourself and your beneficiaries.
When Refunds are Paid to You
- You pay no state income tax.
- You will pay federal tax on most benefits. Specific information will be provided when benefits are payable.
The best tax treatment for you depends on your individual financial situation. Check with a qualified tax consultant or financial planner before requesting a refund.
If you withdraw your GARS contributions and later return to service in the General Assembly
If you return to service in the General Assembly, you will be eligible to repay your refunded contributions plus 4% interest from the date of the refund to the date of repayment. Payments may be made in a lump sum, via a rollover from a qualified plan, or by installments on a pre-tax or post-tax basis.
If you become a participant in another reciprocal retirement system, you must establish two years of credited service before you will be eligible to repay your GARS refund. Service earned in any system covered under the Retirement System's Reciprocal Act can be used to meet this requirement.
The best tax treatment for you depends on your individual financial situation. GARS advises all members to check with a qualified tax consultant or financial planner before receiving benefits or refunds.
Contributions made before January 1, 1982 were taxed when you received them. Your contributions after January 1, 1982, were not included in your gross income and therefore are not immediately taxable. However, when you begin receiving benefits, you will be taxed on your contributions accordingly.