The SECURE Act was passed into law on December 19, 2019 and with it came some big changes to the required minimum distribution (“RMD”) requirements from IRA’s and retirement plans. Prior to December 31, 2019, individuals were required to begin taking mandatory distributions from their IRA’s, 401(k), 403(b), and other pre-tax retirement accounts starting in the year that they turned age 70 ½. The SECURE Act delayed the start date of the RMD’s to age 72. But like most new laws, it’s not just a simple and straightforward change. In this article we will review:
- Old Rules vs New Rules surrounding RMD’s
- New rules surrounding Qualified Charitable Distributions from IRA’s
- Who is still subject to the 70 ½ RMD requirement?
- The April 1st delay rule
Required Minimum Distributions
A quick background on required minimum distributions, also referred to as RMD’s. Prior to the SECURE Act, when you turned age 70 ½ the IRS required you to take small distributions from your pre-tax IRA’s and retirement accounts each year. For individuals that did not need the money, they did not have a choice. They were forced to withdraw the money out of their retirement accounts and pay tax on the distributions. Under the current life expectancy tables, in the year that you turned age 70 ½ you were required to take a distribution equaling 3.6% of the account balance as of the previous year end.
With the passing of the SECURE Act, the start age from these RMD’s is now delayed until the calendar year that an individual turns age 72.
OLD RULE: Age 70 ½ RMD Begin Date
NEW RULE: Age 72 RMD Begin Date
Still Subject To The Old 70 ½ Rule
If you turned age 70 ½ prior to December 31, 2019, you will still be required to take RMD’s from your retirement accounts under the old 70 ½ RMD rule. You are not able to delay the RMD’s until age 72.
Example: Sarah was born May 15, 1949. She turned 70 on May 15, 2019 making her age 70 ½ on November 15, 2019. Even though she technically could have delayed her first RMD to April 1, 2020, she will not be able to avoid taking the RMD’s for 2019 and 2020 even though she will be under that age of 72 during those tax years.
Here is a quick date of birth reference to determine if you will be subject to the old 70 ½ start date or the new age 72 start date:
- Date of Birth Prior to July 1, 1949: Subject to Age 70 ½ start date for RMD
- Date of Birth On or After July 1, 1949: Subject to Age 72 start date for RMD
April 1 Exception Retained
OLD RULE: In the the year that an individual turned age 70 ½, they had the option to delay their first RMD until April 1st of the following year. This is a tax strategy that individuals engaged in to push that additional taxable income associated with the RMD into the next tax year. However, in year 2, the individual was then required to take two RMD’s in that calendar year: One prior to April 1st for the previous tax year and the second prior to December 31st for the current tax year.
NEW RULE: Unchanged. The April 1st exception for the first RMD year was retained by the SECURE Act as well as the requirement that if the RMD was voluntarily delayed until the following year that two RMD’s would need be taken in the second year.
Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD)
OLD RULES: Individuals that had reached the RMD age of 70 ½ had the option to distribute all or a portion of their RMD directly to a charitable organization to avoid having to pay tax on the distribution. This option was reserved only for individuals that had reached age 70 ½. In conjunction with tax reform that took place a few years ago, this has become a very popular option for individuals that make charitable contributions because most individual taxpayers are no longer able to deduct their charitable contributions under the new tax laws.
NEW RULES: With the delay of the RMD start date to age 72, do individuals now have to wait until age 72 to be eligible to make qualified charitable distributions? The answer is thankfully no. Even though the RMD start date is delayed until age 72, individuals will still be able to make tax free charitable distributions from their IRA’s in the calendar year that they turn age 70 ½. The limit on QCDs is still $100,000 for each calendar year.
NOTE: If you plan to process a qualified charitable distributions from your IRA after age 70 ½, you have to be well aware of the procedures for completing those special distributions otherwise it could cause those distributions to be taxable to the owner of the IRA. See the article below for more on this topic:
ANOTHER NEW RULE: There is a second new rule associated with the SECURE Act that will impact this Qualified Charitable Distribution strategy. Under the old tax law, individuals were unable to contribute to Traditional IRA’s past the age of 70 ½. The SECURE Act eliminated that rule so individuals that have earned income past age 70 ½ will be eligible to make contributions to Traditional IRAs and take a tax deduction for those contributions.
As an anti-abuse provision, any contributions made to a Traditional IRA past the age of 70 ½ will, in aggregate, dollar for dollar, reduce the amount of your qualified charitable distribution that is tax free.
Example: A 75 year old retiree was working part-time making $20,000 per year for the past 3 years. To reduce her tax bill, she contributed $7,000 per year to a traditional IRA which is allowed under the new tax laws. This year she is required to take a $30,000 required minimum distribution (RMD) from her retirement accounts and she wants to direct that all to charity to avoid having to pay tax on the $30,000. Because she contributed $21,000 to a traditional IRA past the age of 70 ½, $21,000 of the qualified charitable distribution would be taxable income to her, while the remaining $9,000 would be a tax free distribution to the charity.
$30,000 QCD – $21,000 IRA Contribution After Age 70 ½ = $9,000 tax free QCD
Hi, I’m Michael Ruger. I’m the managing partner of Greenbush Financial Group and the creator of the nationally recognized Money Smart Board blog . I created the blog because there are a lot of events in life that require important financial decisions. The goal is to help our readers avoid big financial missteps, discover financial solutions that they were not aware of, and to optimize their financial future.