When do I take a required minimum distribution?

After years of working and contributing to a retirement plan, you’re finally ready to retire and start using the money you’ve worked so hard to save. Although you’ll generally be free to determine how much you want to withdraw, you will generally have to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) each year from your retirement accounts once you reach the applicable RMD age* as defined in the tax law.

*If you attain age 72 after 2022 and age 73 before 2033, your applicable RMD age is 73. If you attain age 74 after 2032, your applicable RMD age is 75. If you were born prior to July 1, 1949, your applicable RMD age is 70 ½, and if you were born on or after July 1, 1949, and before January 1, 1951, your applicable RMD age is 72.

What kinds of accounts have RMDs?

Almost every kind of retirement savings program (except Roth IRAs) has a distribution requirement for the account holder. This includes savings plans offered by employers, such as 401(k), 403(b), 457, and SIMPLE plans. It also includes any traditional IRAs you may have set up on your own.1

When do I have to start taking RMDs?

In most cases, retirement account owners are expected to start taking annual RMDs when they reach their applicable RMD age.2 You’ll have until the end of each year to take your RMD. There’s a three-month grace period on the deadline for the first RMD you take out, until April 1 of the year after you reach your applicable RMD age.

How much do I have to take out each year?

As a general rule, your RMD amount is determined by your current age and the balance that was in your account at the end of the previous year.3 Although your plan may tell you what your RMD is for the year, it is ultimately your responsibility to figure out how much you need to take and request that amount be distributed to you that year. To help you figure out how much to take in RMDs, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has an online tool that can crunch the numbers at http://tools.finra.org/rmd. Or, you can have your tax advisor help you with the calculation.

What if I have multiple retirement accounts?

If you have more than one retirement account, you’ll need to take separate RMDs from each, except if you have more than one 403(b) or traditional IRA plan. In that case, you can combine like plans into one RMD. For example, if you have two 403(b) plans, you can calculate the RMD from each, add the amounts together, and take the RMD from either 403(b) account. Same goes for traditional IRAs, but not 401(k) or 457(b) plans – each one will need it’s own RMD.

Are there penalties associated with RMDs?

If you don’t take an RMD, you’ll have to pay an excise penalty equal to 25% of what you should have taken out. This excise tax is reduced to 10% if you correct it during a specified correction window.

1Although owners of Roth IRAs do not have to take RMDs during their lifetimes their beneficiaries will be subject to RMD rules.

2Employer-sponsored retirement plans may allow those participants who continue to work past the applicable RMD age and do not own more than 5% of the company to delay taking RMDs until their actual retirement. This option is not available for assets held in IRAs.

3A different formula may be used to calculate RMDs when a spouse is the sole beneficiary for the original account owner and is also more than 10 years younger.

Important Note: Equitable believes that education is a key step toward addressing your financial goals, and we’ve designed this material to serve simply as an informational and educational resource. Accordingly, this article does not offer or constitute investment advice and makes no direct or indirect recommendation of any particular product or of the appropriateness of any particular investment-related option. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal invested. Your needs, goals and circumstances are unique, and they require the individualized attention of your financial professional. But for now, take some time just to learn more.

This article is provided for your informational purposes only. Please be advised that this document is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (New York, NY) issues life insurance and annuity products. Securities offered through Equitable Advisors, LLC, member FINRA, SIPC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company and Equitable Advisors are affiliated and do not provide tax or legal advice. 

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