all about rmds in retirement

How Should I Take My RMDs in Retirement?

Using tax-advantaged retirement accounts to save during your working years is a smart move. By using these accounts, you are deferring taxes. However, this postponement does eventually come with an expiration date. The government will come looking for its share. This bill comes in the form of calculated required minimum distributions (RMDs) beginning when you are age 72.

What are RMDs?

Required minimum distributions are withdrawals from your traditional retirement accounts such as 401(k) or an IRA. The amount is dependent on your savings and life expectancy. RMDs are calculated and serve to collect taxes on money that has grown tax-free. CPAs oftentimes do not want to take multiple RMDs because it increases taxability. However, whether liked or not, after 72, RMDs are mandatory.

How are RMDs calculated?

RMDs are calculated based on life expectancy and the total you have in your retirement accounts. Using one of three IRS tables, your life expectancy is given a factor number which is then divided into the funds subject to RMDs to determine what you need to withdraw.

What is the best way to take RMDs?

While the best way is always to consider your individual circumstances, there are two common ways to take RMDs. First, you may want to wait until the last possible minute which would be Dec. 31 of that year to maximize your returns. Secondly, you may want the regularity of a paycheck, so you could opt into 12 monthly payouts of the RMD.

Why You Should Never Skip & How to Ease Withdrawals

Skipping an annual RMD will result in heavy penalties versus what the income tax may have been. You would be fined a 50% excise tax of the RMD you should have taken. For instance, if you did not take your RMD of $10,000 you would have to pay a levy of $5000 to the IRS—an amount far greater than the income tax you would have needed to pay. Unfortunately, no catchups would be permitted in future years and no credit is given for taking more in past years.

The bill comes due to all tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this, but there are a few ways to lighten the toll. Some strategies are following:

Charitable Donation

After calculating your RMD you can donate up to $100,000 to an authorized charity of your choice via a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). A QCD does not add to your taxable income, therefore you are lessened your tax bill and are providing funds for good causes. Note the QCD must be directly made to the charity. If you accepted it as an RMD and then donated, you may still be responsible for the taxes.

The Still-Working Exemption

CPAs not retiring at 72 are exempt, but the exception only applies to the current employer’s retirement plan. So, while it does not defer all RMDs, it helps! If you are approaching 72, consolidating your retirement accounts into your current employer’s plan may be a great idea.

QLAC Delays

You could use funds from a traditional retirement account such as your IRA or 401(k) to purchase a qualified longevity annuity contract (QLAC). Doing so may reduce your RMDs. As a deferred annuity, QLAC payouts can be put off until age 85, thus putting the tax bill the retirement funds used due later as well for approximately a decade.

Roth Conversion

As the only tax-advantaged retirement accounts, Roth IRAs do not have RMDs. You have a window between when you retire until when the first RMD comes due make use of Roth conversions. CPAs see their income drop after retirement making that window for Roth conversions more than perfect to convert traditional accounts into a Roth IRA while in the lower income tax bracket.

However, this often-underutilized retirement strategy comes with some risk.

  1. Moving pre-tax money means paying taxes when moved into the Roth IRA.
  2. You may increase the portion of your SS benefits that are taxed or may trigger the Medicare surcharge tax.

Ultimately, you can have your money grow tax-free, RMD-free until you or your family need the funds.

READ MORE
RMDs to QCDs to save on taxes in retirement

Qualified Charitable Distributions May Reduce Retirement Taxes

Required minimum distributions may increase your tax bracket in retirement, but there is a way to help manage your tax exposure and help great causes: qualified charitable distributions (QCDs). At 72, you are required to take distributions from traditional IRAs to ensure you are not stockpiling the money, and that Uncle Sam gets his cut. QCDs are your ticket to reducing your retirement income taxes.

What exactly is a Qualified Charitable Distribution?

A qualified charitable distribution satisfies your required minimum distribution from your IRA directly to a qualified charity. Fortunately, the money gifted with a QCD does not count towards you adjusted gross income as it would with a regular RMD.

How can a QCD save you tax money?

They reduce your adjusted gross income but fulfilling the RMD requirement without needing to be reported as income.

How does a QCD work?

You instruct the custodian of your account to directly pay the RMD as a QCD to a qualified 501(c)(3) charity.

Are there any rules or qualifications for QCDs?

There are rules, but they are straightforward:

  • You must be 70 ½
  • To have the QCD count the funds must come from your IRA by your RMD deadline. And for most that is the last day of the year.
  • Whether one big contribution or smaller ones, QCDs have an annual max of $100,000 per individual. Meaning, married folks can donate up to $200,000.
  • QCDs cannot exceed more than what you owe in taxes or qualify for a refund.
  • IRA contributions may reduce the amount for QCD you can deduct.

Who can make QCDs?

Anyone with a traditional IRA who is over 70 ½ can make qualified charitable distributions. Note: QCDs only apply to IRAs and not 401(k)s, 403(b)s, SIMPLE, or SEP IRAs.

What charities can receive a QCD?

For tax purposes, the IRS has a defined list of organizations that can receive QCDs. Their list is here.

How do taxes work with QCDs?

Normal required minimum distributions must be reported and are taxed. No federal or state withholding tax is made on distributions to qualified charities.

Using IRS For 1099-R you report your QCD as a normal distribution. However, please note, this only works on IRAs that are not inherited. Distributions donated from inherited IRAs need reported as death distributions.

Though your QCD is not taxed, you cannot claim it as a charitable tax deduction (the IRS does not approve of double dipping). When you make the QCD make sure you get donation acknowledgement for your records.

READ MORE

After Taxes Now, Tax-Free Later: Roth 401(k)

Tax-advantaged has quite the ring to it, doesn’t it? Unlike the tax-advantages a traditional 401(k) offers—funded with pretax wages—a Roth 401(k) is funded with after tax wages. Income tax has already been paid so when it comes to withdrawing in retirement, your money is withdrawn tax-free.

What exactly is a Roth 401(k)? Created in 2006, Roth 401(k)s are employer-sponsored retirement savings accounts that use after-tax money.

How They Work

While employer-sponsored, enrollment and participation in Roth 401(k)s is entirely voluntary. Payroll deducts the special funds after taxes have been taken out each paycheck. Some employers may offer matches for Roth 401(k)s.

In comparison, a traditional 401(k) and a Roth 401(k) have different tax-advantages. A traditional 401(k) reduces an employee’s gross annual income, providing a tax break now. However, regular income taxes will be due upon withdrawal during retirement. A Roth 401(k) requires income tax be paid but reduces an individual’s annual net income. But after the money is placed into the Roth account, no further taxes are owed when taken during retirement—this includes profits earned.

Much like the traditional 401(k), a Roth 4010(k) is subject to contribution limits and is based off the investor’s age per guidelines of the IRS. For 2022, an individual may contribute up to $20,5000. Those over 50 are permitted a catch-up contribution of $6500. Another perk Roth 401(k)s offer is no income limit.

Withdrawal Special Considerations

Certain criteria must be met for withdrawals to be tax-free.

  • The Roth 401(k) must be at least 5 years old.
  • Withdrawals must occur when the account holder is at least 59 ½. If before, account holder must has passed or experiencing qualifying disability.

Roth 401(k)s do require required minimum distributions. Once you are 72 the first RMD from your Roth 401(k) must be taken by the first April after you turn 72. If you are still working for the company who sponsors the retirement account, you may hold off taking a distribution.

Advantages and Disadvantages Summary

Pros:

  • Helps those who may be in a higher tax bracket during retirement (which is commonly seen)
  • Distributions are tax-free.
  • Earnings grow tax-free.

Cons:

  • Uses after-tax dollars, meaning during working years you are out that money
  • Contributions do not limit taxable income

Roth 401(k)s and Market Volatility

Sadly, you can lose money since a 401(k) is an investment into the market. However, most employers offer low-risk options like government bonds. You are always welcome to work with the plan sponsor and stir up your investment yield and risk.

READ MORE

Market Volatility: Invest Smart, Know the Risks

Investing into the market for retirement funds is a risky business. Retirees often purchase individual stocks or invest in financial products such as mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or even variable annuities. There are other options such as defined contribution plans that invest into stock market and sometimes a company’s stock. 401(k)s are a common option offered by employers with a matching percentage. Having various investments allows for a more diversified portfolio, leading to a better chance at the safe and secure retirement you have always dreamt of.

However, invest smart and know the risks: the financial markets have significant fluctuations. There is a huge chance of majorly reducing retirement funds due to a bad down in the stock market. Therefore, long- and short-term investments are encouraged.

With the roller coaster of the financial markets, timing is everything when it comes to withdrawing from retirement savings & investments. Unfortunately, what may happen with the return of these investments is more negative than anything to the investor. Meaning, more of the account or assets may need to be liquidated to ensure spending power and keep that consistent stream of income. This is called sequence of return risk. An example of this was with the 2008 Recession; where the market declined and many lost their homes, their other investments, their retirements. For those who have awhile to save and plan are able to likely recover loss. Retirees with less time or who need their income soon will have to sell their investment assets while the market is down to reduce further loss and keep that income. A great loss is encountered if assets cannot be recovered.

Diversification of these assets/investments is important. Individual assets, such as the mutual funds and ETFS, may be managed professionally. These funds may have a focus on small to larger companies, even with specific fields or industries in mind. For individually chosen stocks and annuities, consider stock investments. Within these various options, there are performance and choice risks. Investment for retirement funds is a choice that should be taken with research and guidance.

As mentioned, there is always risk with investing—especially for your dream retirement. The following are some great strategies to limit the risks.

Diversify. Hold various investments across the classes (i.e. hold bonds and stocks). The more spread out and full the investments are better at loss absorption your portfolio is. For example, loss in individual stocks can be offset by holding stocks in 15+ companies and balancing the funds throughout these. If you were to hold the same amount over 5 companies/stocks, you are exposed to a greater risk if one of those companies crashes versus if you have the funds spread over 15 or more. Even considering fixed income investments is great! These will not yield as much return, however.

Long term is best. With investments, time is typically on your side. Especially in the case of recovering losses. It is rare you will see recovery happen overnight—it takes years. Those near or in retirement will want to monitor their investments closely because if a major loss occurs, you may be better off selling. Top experts suggest relying on income-generating policies while moving funds from the stock market throughout your retirement years.

Roll with the pooled. Like carpooling to an event, a pooled investment is smaller contributions from individual to make a larger investment fund. Some examples are mutual funds and target-date funds. Oftentimes these are done with financial experts and there may be fees involved.

Remember fees. Higher fees do not necessarily mean a higher yield on investments. They reduce the overall return, so monitoring and understanding them is important for your financial wellbeing. 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans may have fees; sometimes a fee may be charged if using a financial advisor for advice and portfolio management.

READ MORE

2022 and You: Cause and Effect

In 2021, inflation reached a 40- year high from gas, lumber, the housing market, and even groceries. It was reported in October that the U.S. experienced an increase by 6% for the consumer price index. By November, a 7% increase was noted—the largest increase in such a short time since late 1982. Unfortunately, Americans, on average, brought more money home in their paychecks, but were not able to reap the benefits due to the inflation.

What does this mean for inflation in 2022? Economists have a gloomy outlook. With the unexpected, but impending price increases, it is important to allocate more in the budget for groceries and gas. To offset inflation, add more money to your emergency funds as you can. This will keep your retirement funds more secure.

Required minimum distributions, RMDs, had major changes in 2021 (and in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic started). As withdrawals for qualified retirement accounts—401(k)s, traditional IRAs, or 403(b)s—RMDS experienced a recent change that affects the age for when you can withdraw. Now it is 72 for those born after July 1st, 1949, and 70 ½ if born before then.

In 2020, RMDs were suspended under the CARES Act. This was in response to the 30% market drop that March. The hopes were to let the retirement money stay in the market and recover, but the 2020 change was short lived. RMDs resumed in 2021.

2022 Lookout:

Based on inflation rates, the IRS does make changes to tax brackets. Due to the 2021 inflation increase, the tax thresholds will drastically change.  This means more money can be earned before an individual or couple is bumped into the next tax bracket. Using tax-planning tactics during your working years and having a retirement plan in place allows for this potential risk to be easily managed during retirement.

Another major change happening this 2022 year is 401(k) contributions. The IRS is changing the max contribution for taxpayers. The increase is $1000 to $20,500. If you are age 50+, you get an additional $6500 as catchup. Unfortunately, traditional and Roth IRAs contributions are staying the same as 2021. However, high-income earners may be able to contribute to a Roth IRA. Income phase-out ranges were increased by the IRS to allow this. Ranging from $129,000 to $144,000 for single taxpayers and $204,000 to $214,000 for married and jointly filing.

**For more information on how is in store for 2022, please listen to Retirement Risk Show episode “The Know-How of Retirement Planning in 2022.” For all the challenges and changes 2022 will and may bring, register for our “Evolving Retirement Law: The Challenges, The Changes, and Your Choices” webinar.

READ MORE

How to Face Your Retirement Risks: Think in Buckets

Since the old paradigm of retirement will do more harm than good in this current world, tackling the Top Ten Risks can be tricky.

Why won’t the old paradigm work? The first reason is folks nowadays live into their 80s when decades back that was not as common. Because retirement age back in the late 20th century was 55, many retirees waited until years past their retirement age to fully leave the workforce. Another major contributor to retirement plans back then were pensions. Social Security (SS) was on the table then, too. Folks could easily retire and enjoy their golden years off their employment pension and SS. Now, a lot of retirement is unfortunately up to the employees.

Beyond understanding SS and Medicare, balancing your assets over taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free accounts is key to the success of your risk-free retirement. This is known as the Three Bucket System.

First and foremost, the taxable bucket is designed for emergency funds. Having 6 months of your living expenses in this bucket permits less risk. You are protected in case of emergency, and you are not exposing your savings to extra taxation.

The second bucket is tax-deferred and is a bucket folks overfill. While this bucket varies individually, there are some ‘rules’ to be mindful of. Your required minimum distributions (RMDs) should be low enough to not create provisional income (too much would cause your SS to be taxed). Secondly, you do not want them to exceed your standard deduction.

Filling the other two buckets means you can successfully begin filling the third bucket up: tax-free. The sooner you do this, the better off your risk-free retirement will do. Things that can be done for this bucket are Roth conversions or buying a life insurance retirement plan.

**We strongly encourage you to listen to our podcast Retirement Risk Show episode “Break Down the Top 10 Risks Facing Your Retirement” for a deeper dive into the information provided in this blog. For even more on the 10 Risks Top Ten Risks and strategies to reduce them during retirement, register for our webinar “Getting Safely Through Retirement.”

READ MORE