Photo: Tax Credits
All tax-advantaged retirement accounts have rules for something known as the Required Minimum Distribution. Basically, these rules are in place to ensure that you take at least a minimal amount of money in withdrawals...
Photo: Tax Credits
All tax-advantaged retirement accounts have rules for something known as the Required Minimum Distribution. Basically, these rules are in place to ensure that you take at least a minimal amount of money in withdrawals from your retirement accounts once you reach a certain age.
For many people, the Required Minimum Distribution will never be an issue because they will be withdrawing more than their RMD from their retirement accounts. But if you meet certain criteria, you’ll have to know your account’s RMD rules and regulations.
What Is the Required Minimum Distribution?
According to the IRS, Required Minimum Distributions are the minimum amount that a retirement account owner has to withdraw each year starting at the age of 70 1/2 or upon retirement, whichever is later. For IRA accounts, however, the RMDs must begin once the account holder is age 70 ½, regardless of whether he or she is retired.
The RMD rules are in place for all employer-sponsored retirement plans, including profit-sharing plans, 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457(b)s. RMDs are also required for traditional IRAs, as well as SEPs, SARSEPs, SIMPLE IRAs and Roth 401(k) plans.
One plan that’s exempt from RMD rules is the Roth IRA. You can choose not to take any distributions from a Roth IRA during your lifetime. When you die, the beneficiary for your Roth IRA will be required to take minimum distributions from the account.
Why are there RMD Rules?
US News and World Report points out that RMD rules are in place to ensure that the government can collect taxes on your retirement savings in a timely manner. Because withdrawals on most accounts are taxed, the government wants to be able to collect some of those taxes before your death.
This is why the Roth IRA plan escapes RMD rules for retirees. The money in your Roth IRA account has been taxed and won’t be taxed again on withdrawal. So the IRS doesn’t care if you take distributions from a Roth IRA or not.
When Does it Matter for You?
As with all things IRS-related, rules for the Required Minimum Distribution are complex.
Most of us will have to take the RMD on April 1 of the calendar year after which we reach 70 1/2 years old.
So if you turn 70 on May 15, 2013, you’ll turn 70 1/2 on Nov. 15, 2013. So you’ll have to take your first RMD by April 1, 2014.
However, this can become confusing if your half birthday falls at the beginning of the year. For instance, if you turn 70 1/2 on Jan. 15, 2013, you don’t have to take your first RMD until April 1, 2014, the calendar year after you turn 70 1/2.
Here are some other rules you should know about:
You must take the RMD from all (non-Roth) IRA plans, whether you’re retired or not.
For 401(k), profit-sharing, 403(b) and other employer-sponsored, defined-contribution plans, the plan terms vary. For some plans, you can wait past the age of 70 1/2 to take RMDs if you’re still working. For others, you’ll have to take distributions based on your age, even if you’re still working.
If you own 5 percent or more of the business sponsoring the retirement plan, you have to follow the age rules, regardless of whether you’ve retired.
Once you start taking the RMD, you must withdraw your annual required minimum amount by Dec. 31 of each year.
If the retirement account owner dies, the beneficiary will generally need to use the RMD the account owner would have received in the year he or she died. For the years following the account owner’s death, the RMD will vary depending on who the beneficiary is.
As you can see, the rules can get a little confusing, especially if you have multiple types of retirement accounts. This helpful chart from the IRS may help clear up some confusion about RMD rules for different types of accounts.
If you have questions, talk with your investment adviser and, perhaps, a tax professional to ensure you meet the legal requirements.
How to Calculate Your Required Minimum Di