December 31 is fast approaching. Have you taken your minimum required distribution (MRD) from your retirement account? Lots of people have not. Be warned: This can be a costly mistake, one that may result in significant tax penalties.
Beginning when you turn 70½, IRS regulations generally require you to withdraw a minimum amount of money each year from your tax-deferred retirement accounts, like traditional IRAs and 401(k) plans, or pay penalties of up to 50% of your MRD.1 This is why it’s important that you understand how MRDs work, and the timing of distributions.
How the amount is determined
Minimum required distributions, sometimes referred to as required minimum distributions (RMD)s, are determined by your age, your account balance, and your life expectancy. If you have a spousal beneficiary who is more than 10 years younger than you and is the sole beneficiary for the entire distribution year, you can base your MRD on your joint life expectancy.
For inherited IRAs, the rules are different. (Learn more.)
|Uniform lifetime table for minimum required distributions|
|The table above shows, in five year increments, the minimum required distribution periods (based on age and the expected number of years for distributions) and percentages for tax. For a more complete picture, please visit the Uniform Lifetime Table.|
Deadlines for withdrawals
For traditional IRAs, you must begin taking minimum required distributions by April 1 of the year following the year in which you turn 70½. The same generally holds true for 401(k) plans and other qualified retirement plans. However, if you wait until after December 31, you will have to take two MRDs in one year, which could affect your income tax bracket or Medicare eligibility.
If you are over 70½ and still working, you can generally delay your MRDs from your 401(k) until you retire.2 For all subsequent years, distributions must be made annually by December 31. Fidelity customers must complete MRD transactions by December 31. Remember to allow time for any trades to settle if you are selling investments to take your MRD.
Failure to withdraw the MRD annually by the applicable deadline may result in substantial tax penalties, as much as 50% of the amount not distributed. All withdrawals of earnings and pretax contributions are taxed as ordinary income.
- Set up automatic MRDs from your Fidelity IRA (login required).
- View, track and manage distributions from your retirement and inherited retirement accounts in our Retirement Distribution Center (login required).
- Determine your projected annual minimum required distribution amounts with our MRD Calculator.
- Read frequently-asked questions about minimum required distributions.
- Read Viewpoints: "Smart IRA withdrawal strategies."
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