There isn’t much time left until New Year’s. It’s only 69 days away. For me, this has been my quickest year on record. That’s a function of age. But, in all honesty, it’s also a result of not pausing long enough to smell a few roses along the way. For this, I’ll blame my mom for her repeated reminders to act like a duck. Stay calm on the surface and paddle like mad underneath!
In the spirit of lost time and important reminders, this is the time of year to remember to take your required minimum distribution – your RMD – from your IRA. After you reach that odd age of 70 ½, it’s time to pay the taxman. Thankfully, paying the taxes you owe on your retirement savings only happens little by little.
The IRS publishes two tables to determine how much of your IRA you’ll need to include as taxable income each year. One is for you and your spouse, if you happen to pass away first. The other table will be used if you are a non-spousal beneficiary. These tables are designed to slowly push your IRA’s untaxed money onto your tax return. The idea is to allow you to stretch out your IRA’s tax deferral over the rest of your life.
Fortunately, after your first RMD is initiated, you can have your subsequent required distributions done for you automatically. However, if you happen to inherit an IRA and you weren’t the spouse, you’ll need to remember to take your annual distributions each year. If you forget, the penalty is a whopping 50% of your distribution amount.
Now, just as you get comfortable with these rules, our esteemed politicians in Washington DC are chomping at the bit to change them. Even with total gridlock, a bill called the SECURE Act amazingly passed the House earlier this year by a near unanimous vote of 417-3.
Naturally, most thought a Senate vote would then quickly follow and make it law. Not so fast. Under the Senate’s rules, it only takes one member to put the bill on a very slow track. True to form, three Senators pushed pause for political purposes and it sits in limbo.
Assuming the delay ends, the SECURE Act resets the start date of your RMDs to age 72 from age 70 ½ and your non-spousal beneficiaries won’t be allowed to stretch out their inherited IRA over their remaining lifetime. For them, it will all get taxed within ten years. Even their inherited Roth IRA will need to be liquidated over a decade. Finally, among many changes to small business retirement plans, the SECURE Act also ends the current 70 ½ age restriction on making IRA contributions.
To learn more about how RMDs work and the changes that might be coming, attend the Money Series on Wed., November 6 at 3pm at the Leland Township Library. Go online to MoneySeries.org or call (231) 668-6894 to register.
Jason P. Tank, CFA is both the owner of Front Street Wealth Management, a purely fee-only advisory firm and the founder of the Money Series, a non-profit program committed to providing open-access to financial education, for all.