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TAX TALK: RMDs May Be On your Year End to-do List

Michael Eagan, J.D., LL.M. 11.27.2017 | TAX TALK

As the end of the year approaches, for taxpayers “of a certain age” with a tax-advantaged retirement account, as well as younger taxpayers who’ve inherited such an account, there may be one more thing that’s critical on your year end to do list: Take required minimum distributions (RMDs).

Risking a Huge Penalty

After you reach age 70½, you generally must take annual RMDs from your:

  • IRAs (except Roth IRAs), and
  • Defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans (unless you’re still an employee and not a 5%-or-greater shareholder of the employer sponsoring the plan).

An RMD deferral is available in the initial year, but then you’ll have to take two RMDs the next year. The RMD rule can be avoided for Roth 401(k) accounts by rolling the balance into a Roth IRA.

For taxpayers who inherit a retirement plan, the RMD rules generally apply to defined-contribution plans and both traditional and Roth IRAs. Special rules apply when the account is inherited from a spouse.

RMDs usually must be taken by December 31. If you don’t comply, you can owe a penalty equal to 50% of the amount you should have withdrawn but didn’t.

Withdraw More Than the RMD?

Taking only RMDs generally is advantageous because of tax-deferred compounding. But a larger distribution in a year your tax bracket is low may save tax.

However, be sure to consider the lost future tax-deferred growth and, if applicable, whether the distribution could:

  1. Cause Social Security payments to become taxable,
  2. Increase income-based Medicare premiums and prescription drug charges, or
  3. Affect other tax breaks with income-based limits.

Also keep in mind that, while retirement plan distributions aren’t subject to the additional 0.9% Medicare tax or 3.8% net investment income tax (NIIT), they are included in your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). That means they could trigger or increase the NIIT, because the thresholds for that tax are based on MAGI.

For more information on RMDs or tax-savings strategies for your retirement plan distributions, please contact us. I can be reached at meagan@BerdonLLP.com  or contact to your Berdon advisor.

Michael Eagan, J.D., LL.M, , a Berdon LLP tax manager, has nearly 20 years of experience in the accounting profession with a concentration in the real estate industry including partnerships and international organizations.  He works extensively with REITs to minimize corporate taxes and maximize tax benefits.    

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