A key part of retirement income planning is understanding which types of income are subject to the IRS required minimum distribution (RMD) rule. This rule requires investors to take minimum distributions out of certain retirement accounts once they’ve reached a specific age.
However, IRS rules around RMDs can be complex and result in tax penalties if not followed correctly.
As you near retirement, we can help you avoid these penalties by creating a withdrawal strategy for these distributions (and your other retirement income) that is compliant with the law.
Here are answers to commonly asked questions about RMDs
In this article
- What is an RMD?
- What is my RMD age?
- Did the RMD age change?
- When am I required to take my RMD?
- When should I begin taking RMD?
- How are RMDs calculated by the IRS?
- How do I determine my RMD amount?
- What retirement accounts are subject to RMDs?
- How do I take my RMD if I have more than one retirement plan? Can I combine my RMDs?
- Are there ways to avoid or reduce my distribution requirements?
- Are RMDs required for a Roth IRA? What about inherited Roth IRAs?
- How can I avoid tax penalties?
What is an RMD?
Across 401(k), IRA, 403(b) and 457(b) accounts, the IRS does not allow investors to maintain balances indefinitely. As such, federal law mandates that a minimum amount must be withdrawn each year, beginning at a certain age. This amount is a required minimum distribution, or RMD.
What is my RMD age?
Your RMD age depends on the year you were born. Please note, you don’t have to take your first RMD until April 1 of the following year that you reach your RMD age. RMDs for subsequent years must be taken by Dec. 31.
June 30, 1949 or earlier
July 1, 1949 to Dec. 31, 1950
1951 – 1958
Likely 73, but new legislation known as SECURE Act 2.0 assigned both age 73 and age 75 to individuals born in 1959. This will need to be clarified in the future.
1960 or later
Did the RMD age change?
In December 2022, retirement legislation — known as SECURE Act 2.0 — was signed into law, changing the rules on how investors can save for their retirement. The legislation increased the RMD age from 72 to 73 beginning in 2023 for individuals who turn 72 after 2022. The law also mandates an automatic increase in the RMD age to 75, beginning in 2033. Individuals who turned 72 prior to 2023 are already subject to RMDs.
When am I required to take my RMD?
Once you reach your RMD age, you are required to take them by them deadlines below:
- The year you reach your RMD age: You must take your RMD by April 1 of the year after you reach your RMD age. For example, if you turned 72 in October 2022, your first RMD must be taken by April 1, 2023, and your second RMD must be taken by Dec. 31, 2023.
- The years after you reach your RMD age: You have until Dec. 31 to take your RMD each year.
When should I begin taking my RMD?
While some plans allow you to delay an RMD until you retire, the simplest approach for many individuals is to take the first RMD by Dec. 31 in the year they reach their RMD age and continue taking RMDs by Dec. 31 every year after that. With this approach, you do not have to take two RMDs in the year following the year you reach your RMD age.
How are RMDs calculated by the IRS?
Your RMD amount is usually based off the IRS Uniform Lifetime Table and the fair market value (FMV) or entire interest value (EIV) of your retirement plan on Dec. 31 of the prior year.
RMDs are determined separately for each of your retirement plans and are required per individual, not per couple. A different table is used if you have a spouse beneficiary who is more than 10 years younger than you. In each case, the RMD is calculated by dividing the year-end account value by the applicable life expectancy factor. Calculations for inherited IRAs are different and depend on several different factors – please see IRS publication 590-B.
How do I determine my RMD amount?
Contact my team or a tax professional for help calculating RMD amounts. This RMD worksheet from the IRS can also be a helpful supplemental resource as you seek to determine this amount.
What retirement accounts are subject to RMDs?
RMD rules apply
RMD rules do not apply
- Traditional IRAs*
- SIMPLE IRAs
- Inherited IRAs
- Inherited Roth IRAs
- Profit-sharing plans
- Roth 401(k)**
- Roth 403(b)**
- Roth IRA (if you are the original owner)
- Non-qualified annuities
*Annuities held within Traditional IRAs are included in the RMD calculation for the IRA.
**Beginning in 2024, Roth employer plans will be aligned with Roth IRA rules and will not be subject to RMDs even if they were previously.
How do I take my RMD if I have more than one retirement plan? Can I combine my RMDs?
If you have more than one type of retirement plan, your ability to combine RMDs will depend on the plans.
Accounts where RMDs must be taken separately:
Your RMDs must be calculated separately for each of the following plans, even if you have more than one plan within a type:
- 401(k) plans
- Profit sharing and some other types of employer-sponsored plans
- Inherited IRAs
- Inherited 403(b) plans
For example, if you have two 401(k) plans and two inherited IRAs, you will generally need a total of four withdrawals to satisfy your RMD requirements.
Accounts where you can combine RMDs:
If you have more than one of the following plans, RMDs do not need to be taken separately and you can take the combined distribution from one or more of your accounts:
- Traditional, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA
- 403(b) plans
However, please note, you cannot satisfy the RMD for your IRA with a distribution from 403(b) or vice versa.
Are there ways to avoid or reduce my distribution requirements?
There are strategies you can leverage, but consult us on whether it’s right for your unique situation:
- Consider a Roth conversion: Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are subject to RMDs, so you may want to convert some assets to a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) to avoid distribution requirements for future years. Conversions of pretax assets to a Roth are taxable so before doing so, be sure to consider all the relevant issues.
- Consider a qualified charitable distribution: One potential strategy if you are 70 ½ or older is to make a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) to an eligible 501(c)(3) organization of your choice, up to $100,000 total for one or more organizations.
A QCD is a nontaxable distribution from an IRA directly to an eligible charity. If you are subject to RMDs, it will count toward your RMD for the year — and neither you nor the eligible charity will have to pay income taxes. Keep in mind that a QCD is reported differently on your taxes than a regular charitable contribution. QCDs are not available from 401(k) plans. Consult your tax professional if you are considering QCDs.
- Consider strategic withdrawals from pre-tax accounts: Though you are not required to take distributions until your RMD beginning date, if you are taking income from your assets, you can consider taking distributions from your pre-tax accounts as soon as you are able to, at age 59 ½ for most people unless a specific exception applies. This strategy would allow you to spread out your taxable income over time, minimizing a large jump in taxable income when you start taking RMDs. This not only can impact your overall tax bracket, but also how much you pay for healthcare coverage in retirement. Before doing so, discuss with your financial advisor and tax advisor how much to take out each year and how those distributions impact your taxes and healthcare costs today and in the future.
- If you’re working: If you are still working when you reach your RMD age and you are not a 5% or greater owner of the business, you may be able to postpone your RMD from the employer-sponsored retirement account with the employer you currently work for until you retire.
Are RMDs required for Roth IRAs? What about inherited Roth IRAs?
RMD rules do not apply to the original Roth IRA owner. However, if you are an owner of an inherited Roth IRA, your distribution requirements depend on whether you were a spouse or non-spouse beneficiary, the year you inherited the account, if you meet certain exception criteria and how you choose to treat your inherited account.
For example, spouse beneficiaries can move the assets to their own Roth IRA instead of an inherited Roth IRA to avoid RMDs.
How can I avoid tax penalties?
Simply, the only way to avoid tax penalties is to adhere to federal law and ensure you’re withdrawing the correct RMD amount from the correct retirement accounts by the deadline. We can help explain the tax treatment for your withdrawals.
If you do not take a distribution or if you withdraw less than the required amount, you may have to pay a penalty of up to 25% of the amount not taken. The penalty is reduced to 10% if the shortfall is corrected within a two-year window. You can take more than the required amount, but the extra withdrawals don't count toward RMDs for future years.
Generally, withdrawals of pre-tax contributions and earnings are taxed as regular income. If you have after-tax money in your IRA, those distributions will still count toward your RMD but won’t be taxable.
We can help determine your RMDs
RMD rules can be difficult to understand. While we do not provide legal or tax advice, we are committed to helping you determine the correct amounts for each of your investment accounts to help you avoid tax penalties.