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3 Investing Facts About Required Minimum Distributions You Need to Know - July 29, 2020

If you do not make a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your own or an inherited IRA by the specified deadline, the IRS could hit you with a big penalty - 50%! For example, if you were required to withdraw a minimum of $4,000 and you did not, you would be obliged to pay $2,000. Plus, beginning January 1, 2020, the rules concerning RMDs were updated.

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 Mondelez (MDLZ).

But there is a second phase of retirement planning that gets less attention, even though it's the more enjoyable part. It's the "distribution phase," which simply means spending the assets you've worked so hard to accumulate.

Preparing for the distribution stage is where you may settle on choices about where you'll live in retirement, whether you'll wish to travel, interests you may seek after, and different choices that will influence 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.

What is the point of this mandatory withdrawal by the IRS? Not surprisingly, it's to be sure that the government gets their tax money. Without the RMD requirement, individuals could live off other income and never pay tax on retirement account gains. That cash could be left to family or friends as an inheritance and the IRS would not receive taxes from it.

What You Need to Know About RMDs

Which types of retirement accounts have RMDs? Qualified retirement accounts like 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 does it become necessary to begin taking distributions? Your first distribution must be taken by April 1 of the year following the calendar year that you turn 72 (for most accounts). Also, if you retire after that age, you must take your first RMD from your 401(k), profit-sharing, 403(b), or other defined contribution plan by April 1 of the year after the calendar year in which 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? To figure out a particular RMD, you should divide your earlier 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 math: Ann is 71 and will take her first RMD in the year following the year she turns 72. Her IRA balance toward the end of the preceding year was $100,000. Her "distribution period" factor is 27.4. Dividing $100,000 by 27.4 equals $3,649.63. This is the amount 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.


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