Required Minimum Distributions, or RMDs, are essentially the minimum amounts that you must withdraw from your retirement accounts annually. The RMD rules kick in once you reach a certain age, which, as of 2023, is 72 years. However, there's a slight catch. If your 72nd birthday falls after December 31, 2022, your RMDs won't start until you reach the age of 73, as per the SECURE 2.0 Act.
Different Retirement Accounts & RMDs
RMD rules vary across different types of retirement accounts. Traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, and employer-sponsored retirement plans all require you to start taking RMDs at the prescribed age, irrespective of whether you're still employed. However, for 401(k), 403(b), and other defined contribution plans, if you're still working and don't own more than 5% of the company you work for, you can postpone your RMDs until after retirement.
Roth IRAs & RMDs
Roth IRAs operate differently. Owners of these accounts are not obligated to take RMDs during their lifetime. But be mindful if you have a Roth account within a 401(k) or 403(b), as these are subject to RMDs.
Despite being called 'Required Minimum Distributions,' the term indicates the bare minimum you must withdraw. There are no restrictions against withdrawing more than this amount, if you so desire. However, remember that these withdrawals typically form part of your taxable income for the year.
RMDs may seem daunting but calculating them is simpler than it appears. Your RMD is determined by dividing the prior December 31 balance of your IRA or retirement plan account by a life expectancy factor published by the IRS in their Uniform Lifetime Table. While many retirement account trustees or custodians calculate this for you, you're always free to do it yourself.
For example, if you have $100,000 in your retirement account on December 31 of the previous year, and your life expectancy factor per the IRS table is 25.6, your RMD for the current year would be $100,000 divided by 25.6, which equals $3,906.25. This figure is the minimum amount you must withdraw that year.
The Stakes are High
It's important to note that the stakes are high with RMDs. Failing to withdraw the full RMD amount within the deadline results in a stiff penalty of 50% on the amount you should have withdrawn. So, this isn't a matter to be taken lightly.
RMDs Upon Death
So what happens to your retirement account upon your demise? With the SECURE Act of 2019, the rules were revised. Now, your beneficiaries are generally required to withdraw the entire balance of your retirement account within ten years following your death, with exceptions made for spouses, minor children, and others.
Having explored the basics and some intricacies of RMDs, it is hoped you now have a clearer understanding of their significance in retirement planning. Remember, your retirement accounts exist to support you during your golden years. Proper management, including accurately handling RMDs, can ensure you maximize your savings.
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