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Remember Your 2016 RMD

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming closer to an end. For some individuals that are required to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from their retirement plans, it may be a good idea to double check to make sure that happens. If it doesn’t the penalties are harsh. According to the IRS the penalty for not taking and RMD or not taking the full RMD is 50% of the amount not withdrawn.  This can lead to significant losses to a retiree that must take RMDs.  Generally, most financial planners and or custodians we’ll be able to help the individual and remind them that they have and RMD and how much that amount needs to be. If an individual finds themselves in the precarious position of having forgotten to take the RMD or did not take out enough, there is a remedy.  The IRS allows an individual to file form […]

Withdrawals from an IRA – death, disability, and 59 1/2

Three of the most common ways that you can withdraw funds from your IRA without penalty are: 1) reaching age 59½; 2) death; and 3) disability. Below is a brief review of each of these conditions for penalty-free withdrawal: Reaching Age 59½ When you reach age 59½, you can withdraw any amount from your IRA without penalty, for any reason. The only thing you have to remember is that you must pay ordinary income tax on the amount that you withdraw. This means that, once you have reached the date that is 6 months past your 59th birthday, you are free to make withdrawals from your IRA without penalty. You are not required to take distributions at this age (that happens at age 70½). Death Upon your death at any age, the beneficiaries of your account or your estate if you have not named a beneficiary, can take distributions from your IRA in […]

RMD from an Inherited IRA

If you have inherited an IRA you are required to begin taking distributions from the account according to a set schedule. If you are the sole beneficiary of the IRA, how you handle your distributions is up to you. If there are two or more beneficiaries of the IRA, the process becomes more complicated – see the article at the link for more on multiple beneficiary arrangements. There are actually two different schedules that you can use, lifetime distributions and a distribution over 5 years. 5-year distribution The 5-year distribution method is the default period for distribution of an inherited IRA. As the name of the method suggests, in this method the inherited IRA must be completely withdrawn within 5 years of the death of the original owner. There is no specific amount that must be withdrawn in any particular year, as long as the entire account is withdrawn within […]

Age 70½ RMD Rules

As an owner of an IRA or other qualified retirement plan (such as a 401k), when you reach age 70½ you are required to begin taking distributions from the account(s).  There are several important factors about these distributions that could trip you up if you’re not careful.  Listed below are some of the more important rules – but keep in mind that these RMD rules are only for the original owner of the account, not for a beneficiary of an inherited account. There is a different set of rules for inherited IRA RMDs. Required Minimum Distribution Rules Calculation of RMD – Determine your account balance from the end of the calendar year prior to the year for which the distribution is being calculated.  Any additions or withdrawals after December 31 of the previous year are not included in this balance, even if an addition is for the previous calendar year.  Also, any “in flight” rollovers or recharacterizations […]

Qualified Charitable Distributions for 2016

Individuals needing to take their required minimum distributions (RMD) for 2016 may consider having all or part of their RMD distributed as a Qualified Charitable Contribution (QCD). In order to qualify, the following rules must be met. The individual taking the QCD must be age 70 ½. The maximum allowed QCD is $100,000 per individual, annually. The QCD must come from an IRA. QCDs from 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, SEPs, SIMPLEs are not permitted. An individual may roll over an amount to their IRA and then made the QCD. The QCD is counted toward the individual’s RMD for the tax year. If the RMD was already taken, the QCD cannot be retroactively made. The QCD must be made directly to the charitable organization. Generally, the charity must be a public charity. The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 made allowing QCDs from IRAs permanent. The tax benefit from […]

Charitable Contributions from Your IRA

Once the PATH Act (Protecting Americans Against Tax Hikes) is signed into law, at long last the ability to make a direct contribution from an IRA to a qualified charity will be permanent. For background – a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) is when an individual (age 70 1/2 or older and subject to Required Minimum Distributions from his or her IRA) makes a distribution from his IRA directly to a qualified charity. This distribution can be used to satisfy the Required Minimum Distribution for the year. The distribution is limited to $100,000 for each year per individual. The real advantage of this option is that the owner of the IRA doesn’t have to claim the distribution as taxable income on his or her tax return. Any other distribution of pre-tax dollars typically must be claimed as ordinary income, increasing taxes because of the additional income. In addition, having the increased […]


The Required Minimum Distribution method for calculating your Series of Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (under §72(t)(2)(A)(iv)) calculates the specific amount that you must withdraw from your IRA, 401k, or other retirement plan each year, based upon your account balance at the end of the previous year. The balance is then divided by the life expectancy factor from either the Single Life Expectancy table or the Joint Life and Last Survivor Expectancy table, using the age(s) you have reached (or will reach) by the end of the current calendar year. This annual amount will be different each year, since the balance at the end of the previous year will be different, and your age factor will be different as well. Which table you use is based upon your circumstances. If you are single, or married and your spouse is less than 10 years younger than you, you will use the Single Life Expectancy […]

RMDs From IRAs

I’ve made the observation before – IRAs are like belly-buttons: just about everyone has one these days, and quite often they have more than one. Wait a second, maybe they’re not quite like belly-buttons after all. Oh well, you get the point – just about everyone has at least one IRA in their various retirement savings plans, and these accounts will eventually be subjected to Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) when the owner of the account reaches age 70 1/2. So what are RMDs, you might ask? When the IRA was developed, it was determined that there must be a requirement for the account owner to withdraw the funds that have been hidden from taxes over the lifetime of the account, in order for the IRS to begin benefiting by the taxes that are levied against the account withdrawals. A schedule was prepared which approximates the life span of the account owner.  This schedule […]

An Exception to the RMD Rule

For many folks, attaining age 70 ½ means the beginning of required minimum distributions (RMDs) from their 401k, 403b as well as traditional IRAs. There are however, some individuals that will continue to work because they want to or (unfortunately) have to and still want to save some of their income. At age 70 ½ individuals can no longer make traditional IRA contributions. They are allowed to make contributions to a Roth IRA as long as they still have earned income. Earned income is generally W2 wages or self-employment income. It is not pension income, annuity income or RMD income.

RMD Avoidance Scheme: Birthdate Makes All The Difference

As you may recall from this previous article, it is possible to use a rollover into an active 401(k) plan as an RMD avoidance scheme. Of course, this will only work as long as you’re employed by the employer sponsoring the 401(k) plan and you’re not a 5% or greater owner of the company. In addition, the rollover must be done in a timely fashion, prior to the year that you will reach age 70 1/2 in order to avoid RMD. An example of where timing worked against a taxpayer (at least temporarily) recently came to me via the ol’ mailbag: 

Using First Year RMD Delay to Your Advantage

When you are first subject to RMD (Required Minimum Distributions), which for most folks* is the year that you reach age 70½, you are allowed until April 1 of the following year to receive that first minimum distribution.  For all other years you must take your RMD by December 31 of that year.  For many folks, it makes the most sense to take that first year RMD during the first tax year (by December 31 of the year that you’re age 70½), because otherwise you’ll have two RMDs hitting your tax return in that year.  However, in some cases, it might work to your advantage to delay that first distribution until at least the beginning of the following year – as long as you make it by April 1, you’re golden. There may be many circumstances that could make this delay work to your advantage – maybe you’re still working […]

How to Deal With Missed Required Minimum Distributions

What happens when a beneficiary doesn’t act in a timely fashion with regard to taking Required Minimum Distributions from the inherited IRA?  In other words, what are your options if you’ve missed Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) in prior years? The Inheritance So, let’s say you inherited an IRA from your mother – this was her own IRA that she had contributed to or rolled over funds from a qualified plan at some point, and had designated you as the sole primary beneficiary.  Things get really hectic and confusing after the death of a parent, and sometimes we don’t cover all of the bases properly… and in this example, you didn’t realize that you needed to begin taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) from your inherited IRA as of December 31 of the year following the year of your mother’s death.  As of now, for example’s sake, let’s say we’re in the […]

Annuity in an IRA? Maybe, now

Forever and a day, the rule of thumb has been that you should not use IRA funds to purchase an annuity – primarily because traditional annuities had the primary feature of tax deferral. Since an IRA is already tax-deferred, it’s duplication of effort plus a not insignificant additional cost to include an annuity in an IRA.  This hasn’t stopped enthusiastic sales approaches by annuity companies – plus new features may make it a more realistic approach. Changes in the annuity landscape have made some inroads against this rule of thumb – including guaranteed living benefit riders, death benefits, and other options.  Recently the IRS made a change to its rules regarding IRAs and annuities that will likely make the use of annuities even more popular in IRAs: The use of the lesser of 25% or $125,000 of the IRA balance (also applies to 401(k) and other qualified retirement plans) for […]

When is a RMD a RMD?

I receive quite a few questions from folks looking for clarification on the rules around Required Minimum Distributions upon reaching age 70½, so I thought I’d jot down a couple of facts about them that you may find interesting. When can I take the distribution? Looking through some notes from readers I found one where it was asked (this is paraphrased for clarity): My birthdate is April 10, 1943, so I will reach age 70½ on October 10, 2013.  Do I need to wait until October 10 or after to take a distribution so that it is counted as my RMD? I responded to this question by saying that, to be safe, I suggest the reader wait until after October 10 to take the distribution. However. (there’s always a however in life, isn’t there?) I subsequently received a message from a reader (thanks, TAM!) with the following updated information: It […]

Take Your RMDs From Your Smallest IRA

Here’s a strategy that you could use to simplify your life: when you’re subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) after age 70½, you have the option of taking separate RMDs from each IRA that you own OR you could take all of your RMDs from one account if you like. As long as you calculate your RMD based upon all of the IRAs that you own, you are free to take the full amount of all of your RMDs from one single account (or several accounts) if you wish.  And keep in mind that the “I” in IRA stands for Individual – so you can’t aggregate your IRAs with your husband’s, for example. By doing so, you could eliminate the smaller account(s) if you wish, thereby reducing paperwork (fewer accounts and statements).  As well, you don’t have to keep track of as many accounts for estate planning. But then again, […]

Guidance on Qualified Charitable Contributions From Your IRA For 2012

January 1, 2013 update: Passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 has extended the QCD through the end of 2013.  See this article for more details. In past tax years (through the end of 2011) there was a provision available that allowed taxpayers who were at least age 70½ years of age to make distributions from their IRAs directly to a qualified charity, bypassing the need to include the distribution as income.  The law allowed the taxpayer to use a distribution of this nature to satisfy Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) where applicable. This law expired at the end of 2011, but in years past Congress has acted very late in the year and retroactively reinstated this provision.  For more detail on how this provision (if not reinstated) can impact your taxes, see the article Charitable Contributions From Your IRA – 2012 and Beyond. Guidance For 2012 If you […]

IRS Cracking Down on IRA Rules

It seems that some of the rules the IRS has put in place with regard to IRAs have not always been watched very closely – and the IRS is stepping up efforts to resolve some of this.  According to the article in the WSJ, IRA Rules Get Trickier, an estimated $286 million in penalties and fees were uncollected for 2006 and 2007 tax years’ missed distributions, over-contributions, and the like. The title of the article is a bit misleading, because the rules are not changing or getting “trickier”, the IRS is just going to be paying closer attention to what you’re doing with your account.  This is set to begin by the end of this year, after the IRS delivers their report to the Treasury on how to go about enforcing the rules more closely. The first rule being monitored more closely is the contribution rule – for 2012, you’re […]

RMDs Don’t Have to Be Taken in Cash

But… It’s a little-known fact that distributions from an IRA  or a Qualified Retirement Plan can be taken in kind, rather than in cash.  You can in any circumstance take distribution from the account of stocks, bonds, or any investment that you own, just the same as if it were cash. The downside to this is determining valuation for the distribution.  You could value the distribution on the day of the distribution by opening price, closing price, average price, or mean between the day’s high and low prices.  Where you really get into trouble is when the security that you own is very thinly-traded, such as a small company or very infrequently-traded bonds.  These can be very hard to value on the date of distribution, and as you might recall, the value of a distribution for Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) must be valued appropriately in order to ensure that the […]

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