Withdrawals from an IRA can be made at any time, but individuals under the age of 59 1/2 incur a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty, according to CNN Money. Individuals over the age of 59 1/2 can withdraw from an IRA without penalty but owe income tax on the funds.
An IRA must age for five years before the individual can withdraw funds from it, and the individual may only withdraw the funds for a home purchase, if he is paying for college education, if he has death or disability expenses, or if he is over the age of 59 1/2. If one of these conditions is not met, the 10 percent penalty still applies, states Fidelity Investments. Roth IRA penalties only apply if the individual is taking money from the earnings on the IRA and not from the money that he contributed.
The federal government imposes penalties on early withdrawals to try to discourage individuals from using their retirement money before they retire, adds CNN Money. Income tax is imposed for all withdrawals of traditional IRAs. Once the individual reaches the age of 70 1/2, he must take out minimum distributions for a traditional IRA, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The amount of these distributions is determined by calculating the individual's life expectancy or using the distribution period of the IRA.