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Penalty-free withdrawal for college PCs

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in Small Business Tax

Q: My daughter is a college freshman and I bought her a new laptop through the school. Does that qualify for a tax-free withdrawal? C.K., Syracuse, N.Y.

A: First of all, IRA withdrawals to pay qualified education expenses are not completely tax-free. They're subject to regular income tax, but they may be exempt from the usual 10 percent penalty on withdrawals taken before age 591/2. The cost of a computer or a laptop qualifies for this tax break only if the school requires students to have a computer. (Gorski, TC Summary Opinion 2005-112)

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