If you were born before July 1, 1945, the clock is ticking. Well, that way too, but we're talking about Uncle Sam's clock here.
In this case, you generally are required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to receive payments from your individual retirement arrangement (IRA) and workplace retirement plan by Dec. 31.
Known as required minimum distributions (RMDs), these payments normally must be made by the end of 2015. However, if you are a first-year recipients of these payments -- you reached age 70½ during 2015 -- you can wait until as late as April 1, 2016 to receive your first RMDs.
To clarify, anyone born after June 30, 1944, and before July 1, 1945 is eligible for this special rule. Though payments made to these taxpayers in early 2016 can be counted toward their 2015 RMD, they are still taxable in 2016.
Who else is affected?
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 2015 RMD, this amount is on the 2014 Form 5498 normally issued to the owner during January 2015.
The special April 1 deadline applies only to the RMD for the first year. For all subsequent years, the RMD must be made by Dec. 31. For example, a taxpayer who turned 70½ in 2014 (born after June 30, 1943, and before July 1, 1944) and received the first RMD (for 2014) on April 1, 2015, must still receive a second RMD (for 2015) by Dec. 31, 2015.
Calculating your RMD
The RMD for 2015 is based on the taxpayer’s life expectancy on Dec. 31, 2015, and the account balance on Dec. 31, 2014. The trustee reports the year-end account value to the IRA owner on Form 5498 in Box 5. Use the online worksheets on IRS.gov or find worksheets and life expectancy tables to make this computation in the Appendices to Publication 590-B, Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).
For most taxpayers, the RMD is based on Table III (Uniform Lifetime Table) in IRS Publication 590-B. So for a taxpayer who turned 72 in 2015, 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 10 years younger and is the taxpayer’s only beneficiary.
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. See Tax on Excess Accumulations in Publication 575. 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.