Learn everything you need to know about RMDs, including what they are and how much you're required to withdraw each year.

As you get closer to retirement age, you may be wondering about required minimum distributions, or RMDs.

What are they?

How do they work?

And what happens if you don’t take them?

Here’s everything you need to know about RMDs.

What Is an RMD?

An RMD is a required minimum distribution. This is the minimum amount of money that you must withdraw from your retirement account each year.

The amount of the RMD is based on your account balance and life expectancy. The IRS requires the RMD to prevent people from using their retirement accounts as a tax shelter.

By requiring people to take money out of their accounts each year, the IRS ensures that people pay taxes on their retirement savings. The RMD is also important for another reason.

It ensures people do not outlive their retirement savings. Taking money out of your account each year forces you to spend down your account balance.

This ensures that you do not run out of money in retirement. There are a few things to keep in mind regarding the RMD.

First, you must begin taking your RMD by April 1 of the year after you turn 70 ½. Second, you must take your RMD even if you are still working.

Finally, you must calculate your RMD for each account separately if you have multiple retirement accounts. The RMD can seem like a hassle, but it is an important part of retirement planning.

By taking your RMD each year, you can ensure that you do not outlive your retirement savings.

The Gist: The RMD is a required minimum distribution that must be taken from your retirement account each year to prevent tax sheltering and to ensure you do not outlive your savings.

How Much Must I Withdraw Each Year?

Are you in your 20s and dreading the day you have to start withdrawing money from your retirement accounts?

Don’t worry, we’re here to help! You first need to know that you don’t have to start withdrawing money from your retirement accounts until you’re 70.

So, if you’re in your 20s, you have plenty of time to let your money grow. However, there is one exception to this rule.

If you have a traditional IRA, you must start taking distributions starting at age 70 1/2. This is known as the Required Minimum Distribution, or RMD.

The RMD is the minimum amount you must withdraw from your retirement account each year. The amount of the RMD is based on your life expectancy and the value of your account.

For example, let’s say you’re 70 years old and have a traditional IRA worth $100,000. Your RMD would be $3,571.43.

While the RMD may seem like a pain, it’s actually a good thing. The RMD forces you to take money out of your retirement account and use it.

This is important because it ensures that you don’t outlive your money. You won’t have to start taking distributions until you’re 70 years old.

And, even then, the RMD is a good thing because it ensures you don’t outlive your money.

The Gist: The RMD is the minimum amount of money that you must withdraw from your retirement account each year, starting at age 70 1/2. The amount of the RMD is based on your life expectancy and the value of your account.

When Do I Have to Start Taking Distributions?

In your 20s, you’re probably thinking about many things – your career, your love life, and your future. But one thing you might not be thinking about is your retirement.

And that’s okay!

Retirement can seem like a long way off, and there’s plenty of time to start saving later, right?

Wrong. The truth is, the sooner you start saving for retirement, the better.

Why?

Because the earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow. And the more time your money has to grow, the less you’ll have to save overall.

So how do you start saving for retirement in your 20s?

One way is to start contributing to 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plans. If your employer offers a match, contribute at least enough to get the full match.

Another way to start saving is to open an IRA. Once you have a retirement account, you’ll need to consider distributions.

A distribution is simply a withdrawal from your account. You’ll need to start taking distributions from your retirement account at age 70 1/2.

The amount you’ll need to withdraw each year is your Required Minimum Distribution, or RMD. Your RMD is based on your account balance and your life expectancy.

The IRS provides a life expectancy table that you can use to calculate your RMD. You can take your RMD lump sum or installments throughout the year.

However, if you choose to take your RMD in installments, you must take your first RMD by April 1, following the year you turn 70 1/2. For example, if you turn 70 1/2 in 2022, you must take your first RMD by April 1, 2022.

You can also choose to delay your first RMD until April 1 of the year after you retire. However, if you do this, you’ll need to take two RMDs in the year you turn 70 1/2 – one for the year you turned 70 12 and one for the year you retire.

Taking distributions from your retirement account can seem daunting, but it’s important to start thinking about it now. The sooner you start, the more time your money has to grow.

And the more time your money has to grow, the less you’ll have to withdraw later.

The Gist: The sooner you start saving for retirement, the less you’ll have to withdraw later.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Rule?

As we all know, the rule of thumb is that you should never put more than 10% of your income into savings.

But are there any exceptions to this rule?

For example, let’s say you’re in your 20s and making a good income. You may be able to afford to put away 15% or even 20% of your income into savings.

Or, let’s say you have a lot of expensive debts, like student loans. In this case, you may want to put more than 10% of your income towards debt repayment to get rid of your debt sooner.

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to personal finance. It’s important to do what makes sense for your unique situation.

If you’re unsure what to do, talk to a financial advisor. They can help you figure out a savings plan that makes sense for you.

What Happens If I Don’t Take My Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)?

Like most people, you probably don’t think about your required minimum distribution (RMD) until it’s time to take it. And even then, you may not be sure what it is or why you must take it.

Here’s the deal:

An RMD is the minimum amount of money that you must withdraw from your retirement account each year.

The purpose of an RMD is to ensure that you don’t keep your money in your retirement account forever and to prevent you from deferring taxes on that money indefinitely.

So what happens if you don’t take your RMD?

First, you’ll owe a penalty of 50% of your RMD. So if your RMD is $10,000 and you don’t take it, you’ll owe a penalty of $5,000.

In addition to the penalty, you’ll also owe taxes on the money you should have withdrawn. So if you’re in the 25% tax bracket, you’ll owe $2,500 in taxes on the $10,000 you should have withdrawn.

Not only will you owe a penalty, but you’ll also owe taxes on the money you should have withdrawn.

The Gist: If you don’t take your RMD, you’ll owe a 50% penalty and taxes on the money you should have withdrawn.

FAQs About What Is RMD

What is an RMD, and how does it work?

It is the minimum amount that you are required to withdraw from your retirement account each year.

How do I calculate my RMD?

The answer to this question depends on what type of retirement account you have.

If you have a traditional IRA, you would calculate your RMD by taking the total value of your account as of December 31st of the previous year and dividing it by the distribution period.

The distribution period is based on your life expectancy as listed in the IRS life expectancy tables. If you have a Roth IRA, there is no required minimum distribution for Roth IRAs during the owner’s lifetime.

How do I avoid paying RMD on my taxes?

You can avoid paying RMDs on your taxes by rolling your 401k over into a Roth IRA. This way, the money in the Roth IRA will never be subject to mandatory distributions, and you’ll be able to keep it tax-free for as long as you like.

If you’re not sure how to roll over your 401k, most financial institutions can help walk you through the process. And if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact a tax professional for advice.

What is the purpose of an RMD?

The purpose of an RMD is to ensure that taxpayers do not avoid paying taxes on their retirement account balances by taking advantage of the tax-deferred status of those accounts.

About the author

Chris Muller picture
Total Articles: 231
Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter.