Take Retirement Plan Distributions by December 31

Taxpayers born before July 1, 1947, generally must receive payments from their individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and workplace retirement plans by December 31.

Known as required minimum distributions (RMDs), typically these distributions must be made by the end of the tax year, in this case, 2017. The required distribution rules apply to owners of traditional, Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (SIMPLE) IRAs but not Roth IRAs while the original owner is alive. They also apply to participants in various workplace retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

An IRA trustee must either report the amount of the RMD to the IRA owner or offer to calculate it for the owner. Often, the trustee shows the RMD amount on Form 5498 in Box 12b. For a 2017 RMD, this amount is on the 2016 Form 5498 normally issued to the owner during January 2017.

A special rule allows first-year recipients of these payments, those who reached age 70 1/2 during 2017, to wait until as late as April 1, 2018, to receive their first RMDs. What this means that those born after June 30, 1946, and before July 1, 1947, are eligible. The advantage of this special rule is that although payments made to these taxpayers in early 2018 can be counted toward their 2017 RMD, they are taxable in 2018.

The special April 1 deadline only applies to the RMD for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by December 31. So, for example, a taxpayer who turned 70 1/2 in 2016 (born after June 30, 1945, and before July 1, 1946) and received the first RMD (for 2016) on April 1, 2017, must still receive a second RMD (for 2017) by December 31, 2017.

The RMD for 2017 is based on the taxpayer’s life expectancy on December 31, 2017, and their account balance on December 31, 2016. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. For most taxpayers, the RMD is based on Table III (Uniform Lifetime Table) in IRS Publication 590-B. For a taxpayer who turned 72 in 2017, the required distribution would be based on a life expectancy of 25.6 years. A separate table, Table II, applies to a taxpayer whose spouse is more than ten years younger and is the taxpayer’s only beneficiary. If you need assistance with this, don’t hesitate to call.

Though the RMD rules are mandatory for all owners of traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs and participants in workplace retirement plans, some people in workplace plans can wait longer to receive their RMDs. Usually, employees who are still working can, if their plan allows, wait until April 1 of the year after they retire to start receiving these distributions; however, there may be a tax on excess accumulations. Employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) plan accruals before 1987 should check with their employer, plan administrator or provider to see how to treat these accruals.

For more information on RMDs, please call.

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