Required Minimum Distributions: The Government Wants Their Money!

Required Minimum Distributions, The Government Wants Their Money, James Lange - The Roth Revolution BlogOver the years, I’ve met with many clients who have managed to accumulate small fortunes over the course of their working careers – even though their incomes were never even high enough to put them in the top two or three tax brackets. I call these clients my “savers.” These individuals seem to share one trait – mainly that they simply don’t feel the need to spend money if they don’t have to. Instead, they set the money aside for the times when they absolutely must spend and, more often than not, they spend far less than what they could.

It’s these clients who seem to suffer the greatest shock when they turn 70 ½ and are required to start withdrawing money from their qualified retirement plans. They object, “But I don’t need the money! I just want to leave it sit there in case I need it some day!” And I have to tell them that it doesn’t matter if they need the money or not. The money that they squirreled away in their retirement plans for a rainy day has grown all these years without being taxed, and now the government wants their tax money!

There’s no avoiding the Required Minimum Distribution rules on traditional retirement plans. Failure to take a distribution when required, in fact, will cost you a penaly tax of 50% on the amount not withdrawn. Individuals who hate the RMD rules and have a spiteful streak might enjoy an interesting (and legal) tip presented in Chapter 5 that allows them to take advantage of the withholdings on the distribution to wait until the very last minute to pay the IRS their due, while also avoiding a late payment penalty. They can also learn of a possible way to completely avoid tax on their Required Minimum Distributions – and also a general increase in their tax bracket – by sending their RMD direct to a charity. I encourage everyone, though, to read Chapter 5 so that you have a good understanding of the RMD rules. Later chapters address proposed legislative changes to the rules that may not strike you as being significant, and unless you have a good understanding of how they currently work.

My next post will talk about rolling your old retirement plan to an IRA. There have been a lot of changes in the laws about this, so I hope you will stop back to get a summary of what you can expect.

Happy Reading!


Jim Lange A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

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