Neglecting to withdraw a required minimum distribution (RMD) from an IRA by the due date brings about a painful tax code penalty: 50%. Yes, you read that right. If you are supposed to withdraw at least $4,000 and (uh oh!) did not do as such, you have to write the IRS a check for $2,000. Keep in mind that on January 1, 2020, the RMD rules were modified.
Like the majority of investors, you're most likely working on a retirement portfolio that will provide a large enough nest egg to give you a comfortable retirement. Retirement financial planners refer to this as the "accumulation phase." Your goal in this phase is to choose investments with long-term growth potential - for example, a current top ranked dividend stock like H&R Block (HRB - Free Report) .
There is also a second phase of retirement planning that gets less focus - despite the fact that it's the more interesting part. It's the "distribution phase," which essentially means spending the wealth you've worked hard to amass.
Planning for the distribution phase is the time where you may make decisions about where you'll want to live in retirement, whether you'll want to travel, hobbies you may pursue, and other decisions that will affect your retirement spending.
Along with those choices, you need to be mindful of the RMD, because it applies to the majority of retirement accounts. This IRS rule requires you to withdraw a specific minimum amount from any qualified accounts you have when you reach a certain age--previously it was 70 1/2, but beginning in 2020, it is 72.
Why does the IRS require you to start taking your money out? It's simple - they want to make sure they get their tax. If this rule didn't exist, people could live off other income and never pay tax on their retirement investment gains. Then, that money could be left to family or friends as an inheritance without the IRS collecting any taxes from you.
The Most Important Things to Know About RMDs
What types of retirement accounts have RMDs? Qualified retirement accounts such as IRA accounts, 401(k)s, 457 plans and other tax-deferred retirement savings plans like a TSP, 403(b), TSA, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA plan require withdrawals in retirement.
When do I need to begin withdrawals? For most accounts, you should take your first distribution by April 1 of the year following the calendar year in which you turn 72. If you retire after 72, you must withdraw your first RMD from your 401(k), profit-sharing, 403(b), or other defined contribution plan by April 1 of the year following the calendar year that you retire.
Every year after your start date, you are required to take your RMD by December 31. Remember, for Roth IRAs you do not have to take an RMD because you paid taxes before contributing. However, other types of Roth accounts do require RMDs, but you may be able to avoid them (for instance, by rolling your Roth 401(k) into your Roth IRA).
What happens if don't take my RMD? The penalty for not taking a required minimum distribution, or if the distribution is not large enough, is a 50% tax on the amount not withdrawn in time.
How much cash do I need to withdraw? The RMD you are required to take is calculated by dividing your previous year's December 31st retirement account balance by a "distribution period" factor dependent on your age.
Here's an example to give you an idea of the amount: Ann is 71 and will take her first RMD in the year following the year she turns 72. Her IRA balance at the end of the prior year was $100,000. Her "distribution period" factor is 27.4. Dividing $100,000 by 27.4 equals $3,649.63. This is how much Ann is required to withdraw for her first RMD.
Learning about the "distribution phase" is just one aspect of preparing for your nest egg years.
To learn more about the tax implications of retirement spending - and much more about retirement planning - download our free guide: Retirement Made Easy.