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Know These 3 Facts to Avoid Paying Half Your Retirement Income to the IRS - January 31, 2020

Zacks Equity Research

If you do not make a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your own or an inherited IRA by the specified deadline, the IRS could hit you with a big penalty - 50%! For example, if you were required to withdraw a minimum of $4,000 and you did not, you would be obliged to pay $2,000. Plus, beginning January 1, 2020, the rules concerning RMDs were updated.

Like many investors, you're likely aiming to build a comfortable nest egg to ensure a comfortable retirement. Among retirement financial planners, this is called the "accumulation phase." In this phase, your goal is to invest wisely by choosing stocks with long-term potential for your retirement portfolio, such as Apartment Investment Management (AIV), a current top ranked dividend stock.

But there is a second phase of retirement planning that gets less attention, even though it's the more enjoyable part. It's the "distribution phase," which simply means spending the assets you've worked so hard to accumulate.

Preparing for the distribution stage is where you may settle on choices about where you'll live in retirement, whether you'll wish to travel, interests you may seek after, and different choices that will influence your retirement spending.

In addition to these considerations, it is essential to take into account the RMD that applies to most retirement accounts. Basically, this is an IRS requirement that you withdraw a certain amount from your qualified retirement accounts once you reach age 72.

Why does the IRS require you to start taking your money out? It's simple - they want to make sure they get their tax. If this rule didn't exist, people could live off other income and never pay tax on their retirement investment gains. Then, that money could be left to family or friends as an inheritance without the IRS collecting any taxes from you.

Key Facts to Know About RMDs

Which types of retirement accounts have RMDs? Qualified retirement accounts like IRA accounts, 401(k)s, 457 plans and other tax-deferred retirement savings plans like a TSP, 403(b), TSA, SEP, or SIMPLE IRA plan require withdrawals in retirement.

When do I need to begin withdrawals? For most accounts, you should take your first distribution by April 1 of the year following the calendar year in which you turn 72. If you retire after 72, you must withdraw your first RMD from your 401(k), profit-sharing, 403(b), or other defined contribution plan by April 1 of the year following the calendar year that you retire.

For each year after your required starting date, you must take your RMD by December 31. Note that you don't need to take an RMD on a Roth IRA since you covered taxes before contributing. Other varieties of Roth accounts require RMDs. But, there are approaches to avoid them - for instance, you can roll your Roth 401(k) into your Roth IRA.

What happens if don't take my RMD? The penalty for not taking a required minimum distribution, or if the distribution is not large enough, is a 50% tax on the amount not withdrawn in time.

How much cash do I need to withdraw? To figure out a particular RMD, you should divide your earlier year's December 31st retirement account balance by a "distribution period" factor dependent on your age.

Here's an example to give you an idea of the amount: Ann is 71 and will take her first RMD in the year following the year she turns 72. Her IRA balance at the end of the prior year was $100,000. Her "distribution period" factor is 27.4. Dividing $100,000 by 27.4 equals $3,649.63. This is how much Ann is required to withdraw for her first RMD.

Learning about the "distribution phase" is just one aspect of preparing for your nest egg years.

To learn more about the tax implications of retirement spending - and much more about retirement planning - download our free guide: Retirement Made Easy.

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