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Frequently Asked RMD Questions

Required minimum distributions (RMDs) are a mystery to many individuals. There are seemingly countless rules to keep track of which are constantly changing. The good news is you don’t have to endure the RMD process alone. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about RMDs.

What types of retirement plans require minimum distributions?

According to the IRS, “The RMD rules apply to all employer sponsored retirement plans, including:

  • Profit-sharing plans
  • 401(k) plans
  • 403(b) plans
  • 457(b) plans

The RMD rules also apply to traditional IRAs and IRA-based plans such as SEPs, SARSEPs, and SIMPLE IRAs. The RMD rules also apply to Roth 401(k) accounts. However, the RMD rules do not apply to Roth IRAs while the owner is alive.”1

How are required minimum distribution calculated?

RMD calculations are calculated by dividing the prior December 31 balance of your IRA or retirement plan account by a life expectancy factor created by the IRS. Different rules may apply to 403(b) plans. You can find out more with the IRA Required Minimum Distribution Worksheet

When will I have to begin taking RMDs?

The IRS states that “You must take your first required minimum distribution for the year in which you turn age 72 (70 ½ if you reach 70 ½ before January 1, 2020). However, the first payment can be delayed until April 1 of 2020 if you turn 70½ in 2019. If you reach 70½ in 2020, you have to take your first RMD by April 1 of the year after you reach the age of 72. For all subsequent years, including the year in which you were paid the first RMD by April 1, you must take the RMD by December 31 of the year.”1

What if I don’t take any distributions, or if the distributions I take do not meet the RMD amount?

You could be forced to pay a 50% excise tax on the amount distributed.2

Can I withdraw more than the minimum required amount?

You can, but remember the excess amount “will be considered taxable income except for any part that was taxed before or that can be received tax-free (such as qualified distributions from designated Roth accounts).” Also, the excess amount distributed cannot be applied to future years.


We hope these answers provide some clarity. For answers to other RMD and financial questions, be sure to contact a financial professional. They can help guide you and help protect your retirement savings from unnecessary taxation.