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What Is a Required Minimum Distribution (RMDs)?

Planning for retirement is crucial, but what happens to your nest egg after you reach retirement age? Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) come into play, ensuring you withdraw and pay taxes on a portion of your retirement savings. This article dives deep into RMDs, explaining what they are, when they apply, how to calculate them, and beneficiary distribution rules.

What are Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)?

RMDs are mandatory withdrawals you must take from certain retirement accounts, such as traditional IRAs, 401(k)s, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs. The purpose is to prevent you from leaving your retirement savings untouched indefinitely and ultimately pay taxes on them.

When Do RMDs Begin?

Generally, RMDs kick in during the year you turn 72 (or 73 if you reach 72 after December 31, 2022). There’s some flexibility for the first withdrawal: it can be delayed until April 1st of the following year. However, this means taking two distributions in that year – one for the year you turned 72 and another for the current year. There’s no penalty if you pass away before April 1st of the year following your 72nd birthday. After that, the deadline to take your RMD is December 31st of each year.

Calculating Your RMD:

The amount you need to withdraw is calculated by dividing your retirement account’s value on December 31st of the prior year by a life expectancy factor provided by the IRS. This factor considers your age and is found in the Uniform Lifetime Table. There are other tables (Joint and Last Survivor and Single Life) for specific beneficiary situations, but the Uniform Lifetime Table is the most common.

Important Points to Remember:

  • You can withdraw more than the RMD amount from your retirement account in a given year, but the excess won’t count towards future RMDs.
  • RMDs are mandatory – failing to take them can result in a hefty 50% penalty on the undistributed amount. The IRS may waive the penalty under specific circumstances, but it’s best to avoid the hassle and ensure timely withdrawals.
  • Even if your total income falls below the tax filing threshold, RMD rules still apply, and you could face penalties for not taking them.

Beneficiary Required Distributions:

Understanding beneficiary RMD rules is crucial, as they can be complex and lead to penalties if not followed correctly. Here’s a simplified overview:

  • Spouses: Surviving spouses have options like treating the deceased’s IRA as their own or rolling it over into their IRA. Specific rules apply, so consulting a financial advisor is recommended.
  • Eligible Designated Beneficiaries: This category includes spouses younger than the account owner by 10 years or less, disabled beneficiaries, and minor children (until they reach adulthood). These beneficiaries have more flexibility in taking distributions.
  • Other Beneficiaries: Beneficiaries more than 10 years younger than the deceased are subject to a 10-year distribution rule, while those not more than 10 years younger can choose lifetime distributions.

Legislative Changes on the Horizon:

Proposals in Congress aim to increase the age at which RMDs begin. The House bill suggests a gradual increase to 75 by 2033, while the Senate bill proposes reaching 75 by 2032.


RMDs are an essential part of retirement planning. By understanding how they work, you can ensure you comply with IRS regulations and avoid penalties. Remember, this article provides a general overview, and consulting a financial advisor for personalized guidance is always recommended.

JS Morlu LLC is a top-tier accounting firm based in Woodbridge, Virginia, with a team of highly experienced and qualified CPAs and business advisors. We are dedicated to providing comprehensive accounting, tax, and business advisory services to clients throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro Area and the surrounding regions. With over a decade of experience, we have cultivated a deep understanding of our clients’ needs and aspirations. We recognize that our clients seek more than just value-added accounting services; they seek a trusted partner who can guide them towards achieving their business goals and personal financial well-being.
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