Steve Chiotakis: A couple of lawmakers from Georgia are planning to
introduce a bill today in Congress. It would help struggling homeowners make their mortgage payments with money from their retirement savings.
Edgar Treiguts of Georgia Public Broadcasting
Edgar Treiguts: Nationwide, there are more than 3.5 million homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments. Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson and Congressman Tom Graves have drafted a bill that would allow people to tap retirement accounts, like 401(k)s, and avoid the usual 10 percent penalty for early withdrawal.
Jim Saccacio is with RealtyTrac, which follows the housing market.
Jim Saccacio: How do you kill an elephant? It's one bite at a time. I think this is not the panacea; it's not the cure-all. But it's one step in the right direction.
But is it really a smart move to take from your future, to pay down debt now? Atlanta financial planner Casey Patrick says in most cases, yes. But there's something homeowners need to remember: Even without the penalty, they still have to pay the taxes on the withdrawals.
Casey Patrick: In some cases, when some individuals take up to $50,000, they don't realize that that $50,000 will quite possibly be taxed at one or two tax brackets higher than their current tax bracket.
RealtyTrac's Saccacio would like the bill to go further, like making retirement account withdrawals penalty and tax-free to make mortgage payments.
In Atlanta, I'm Edgar Treiguts for Marketplace.