Could This Little-Known Rule Cost You Thousands in Retirement?

Wooster Corthell |

The road to retirement is paved with dreams, plans, and savings. But have you ever paused to check if your hard-earned retirement fund is leaking? Surprisingly, one of the most significant leaks comes from an often-overlooked aspect: Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). If not handled correctly, RMDs can end up causing a substantial dent in your nest egg. Let's dive into how you can plug this potential leak.

Understanding the Leak: What are Required Minimum Distributions?

RMDs are the minimum amounts that the federal government requires retirees to withdraw annually from certain tax-deferred retirement accounts.

This includes Traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, 401(k) and several employer-sponsored plans. These distributions typically kick in when you turn 73 and are essential to make sure that you're paying taxes on the money you've deferred over the years.

The Risk of Overflow

Mismanagement of RMDs poses risks. Failure to take the correct amount can lead to a whopping 50% penalty on the difference between the actual amount you withdrew and what you should have taken out. Yes, you read that right. That's like watching half of your savings being drained away – a leak you want to avoid at all costs! On top of this, you would still owe the ordinary income tax when you do withdraw!

Plugging the Leak: Strategies for Effective RMD Management

  1. Timely Distributions: RMDs start the year you turn 73, with the first distribution due by April 1 of the following year. From then on, it's due by December 31 every subsequent year. Marking these deadlines on your calendar can save you from costly oversights.
  2. Consolidate Accounts: Juggling multiple retirement accounts can be tricky. Simplify the RMD process by consolidating your accounts, making it easier to calculate and take distributions.
  3. Automate the Process: Many financial institutions offer automated RMD services. By setting this up, you ensure that the right amounts are withdrawn on time, every time.
  4. Stay Informed: As with all financial regulations, RMD rules are subject to change. Keep an eye on updates or work with a financial advisor who can help you adjust your strategy as needed.
  5. Charitable Giving: If philanthropy is close to your heart, consider making a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). This way, your RMD can be sent directly to a charity of your choice, satisfying your RMD requirement and offering potential tax advantages.

When the Leak Has Started: Remedying Missed RMDs

If you realize you've overlooked an RMD, don’t panic swift action can help mitigate damage:

  1. Immediate Correction: Withdraw the missed amount as soon as you realize the oversight.
  2. Report to the IRS: When tax season rolls around, file Form 5329 to report the missed RMD.
  3. Request a Waiver: If your missed RMD was due to a genuine error, the IRS might waive the penalty. When filing your taxes, attach a letter explaining the oversight and the steps taken to rectify it.

Final Thoughts

By understanding RMDs and adopting strategies to manage them, you are likely to avoid paying costly penalties.

Looking for a financial advisor to handle your RMDs? Consider booking a meeting with Wooster Corthell Wealth Management, Inc. or connecting with Wooster Corthell on LinkedIn for timely financial insights.