Key takeaways

  • RMD rules apply to retirement accounts you’ve funded with tax-deferred contributions, including traditional IRAs and 401(k)s.

  • There are deadlines for withdrawing your RMD each year once you reach the qualifying age. Failure to do so will trigger an IRS penalty. Furthermore, you’re responsible for calculating the minimum distribution amount on your accounts each year.

  • RMDs are taxed as ordinary income. Depending on the amount, or if you take more than your required distribution, you may move into a higher tax bracket.

If you’ve contributed to an individual retirement account (IRA) or employer-sponsored retirement plan over the years, the day will come when you must begin withdrawing money from your plans and begin paying taxes on it.

Required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are Internal Revenue Service-mandated withdrawals from qualified retirement plans once you reach a certain age. If you’re an account owner of traditional IRAs or employer-sponsored retirement plans, the IRS mandates that you take a required minimum distribution annually by a specified deadline. Understanding RMDs, the rules related to required distributions and the tax ramifications of your withdrawals are essential components of making the most of your retirement dollars.

If you’re an account owner of traditional IRAs or employer-sponsored retirement plans, the IRS mandates that you take a required minimum distribution annually by a specified deadline.


What retirement accounts have required minimum distributions?

RMD rules apply to retirement accounts into which you’ve made tax-deferred contributions, including traditional IRAs and other IRA-based plans like SEPs, SARSEPs, and SIMPLE IRAs. Other retirement accounts subject to RMD rules include employer plans, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457(b)s.


When do I have to take RMDs?

You do not have to take RMDs right at retirement. The Secure 2.0 Act increased the RMD age to 73 for individuals who turn 72 after 2022. That threshold will rise again to 75 in 2033. If you turned 72 in 2022 or earlier, you’ll continue taking RMDs as scheduled.

The IRS does not require you to take an RMD from your employer-sponsored retirement plan until you retire or terminate your employment. However, an employer can require you to take RMDs earlier than the tax code, so make sure you understand the terms of your plan.


When is the deadline for withdrawing RMDs?

According to RMD rules, the deadline for withdrawing your RMD is April 1 of the year after you reach the qualifying age and December 31 for each subsequent year. The Secure 2.0 Act reduced the IRS penalty for failing to take all or part of your required minimum distribution to 25% of the amount not taken on time (a decrease from 50%). The penalty can be further reduced to 10% if the excess accumulation is corrected within two years.

If you delay your first RMD until the following year and before April 1, you will have to take two RMDs that year—the first by April 1 and the second by Dec. 31. For example, if you turned 73 in May 2023, you may delay your first RMD to April 1, 2025. However, you must also take a second RMD by Dec. 31, 2025.

Note that there are tax ramifications for taking two RMDs in the same year and may put you in a different tax bracket, increasing the amount of income tax owed.


How do I calculate RMDs?

As the account owner, you’re responsible for calculating the minimum distribution amount each year by dividing your year-end account balances on your eligible accounts by the life expectancy factor found in the IRS’s Uniform Lifetime Table.

Here's how RMD calculation would play out in a hypothetical situation.

Scott is 73 and married to Deborah, who is 68. Scott has one tax-deferred IRA. To calculate his annual required minimum withdrawal, Scott starts with the balance on his account on Dec. 31 of the preceding year: $495,000. He divides this amount by the life expectancy factor of a person's age and life situation using the IRS Uniform Lifetime Table to arrive at the estimated RMD for the year. For Scott, this factor is 16.4.

Using this formula, Scott’s required minimum distribution for the year is $30,182.93.

$495,000 ÷ 16.4 = $30,182.93

If Scott fails to take his required minimum deduction by the required deadline, he could be subject to an excess accumulation penalty and may be required to file Form 5329 with his federal tax return for the year in which he did not take his RMD. In this case, Scott should receive further guidance from his tax advisor.

If an IRA owner’s spouse is their sole primary beneficiary and is more than 10 years younger than the IRA owner, their RMD is based on the joint life expectancy table.


RMDs and Roth accounts: When can I withdraw from a Roth IRA?

As of 2024, Roth accounts, including Roth 401(k)s, are exempt from RMDs, although 2023 RMDs due by April 1, 2024, are still required for Roth 401(k)s.

One of the advantages of a Roth account is that they're not subject to the same RMD rules as other tax-deferred retirement accounts. The IRS does not require you to take RMDs on a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) while you’re alive, which means you can let them grow tax-free for your beneficiaries.


RMDs and Inherited IRAs: Cashing out an Inherited IRA

If you’re the beneficiary of someone’s IRA account, you have several options. You could:

  • Open an inherited IRA and continue tax-deferred growth with the option to make withdrawals immediately without penalties.
  • Take the inheritance in a lump-sum withdrawal for immediate access to the funds. However, you could pay income taxes on the taxable portion of the distribution and possibly move to a higher tax bracket.
  • Choose not to accept the inheritance and pass it to the next eligible beneficiary. But you must act within nine months of the original IRA owner’s death.

A financial professional can help you decide which option is best for you.


How are RMDs taxed?

The IRS taxes RMDs as ordinary income, and it will count toward your taxable income for the year, except for any after-tax contributions. RMDs are subject to applicable federal income tax rates and may also be subject to state and local taxes.

Keep in mind that, depending on the amount of your RMD, or if you take more than the required minimum distribution, this may put you in a higher tax bracket, which could also affect the taxes you pay for Social Security or Medicare.


Using RMDs for qualified charitable distributions (QCDs)

If you’re 70 ½ or older, you may want to consider a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). A QCD allows you to distribute up to $105,000 (adjusted yearly for inflation) from your IRA to a qualified charitable organization, even if you aren’t yet taking RMDs.

With a QCD, you do not claim any income from a distribution. Instead, the full amount of your donation goes to the directed charities, and you avoid a significant taxable increase to your income. This may allow you to stay in a lower tax bracket and potentially avoid the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT). It also potentially allows you to minimize your tax liability for Social Security or Medicare Part B premiums.

Beneficiaries of inherited IRAs who are over 70½ can also complete QCDs.

You also have a one-time opportunity to use a QCD to direct up to $50,000 to a Charitable Remainder Unit Trust (CRUT), Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust (CRAT) or a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA). Note that restrictions apply, so be sure to consult with your tax advisor to fully understand the rules and tax ramifications.


RMDs and retirement planning

As you plan for your retirement, it’s vital to establish a financial strategy to generate income in a tax-efficient way. RMDs are an essential part of any strategic retirement plan. They affect not only your cash flow but also have critical tax implications.

When planning for your retirement, also keep in mind that qualified charitable giving offers an excellent opportunity to enhance your giving while achieving greater tax benefits. Our comprehensive retirement checklist can help you learn more about other key areas you should consider when planning for retirement.

Learn how we can help you create your retirement income strategy.

Related articles

How 7 common sources of retirement income are taxed

Don’t overlook the impact of taxes as you plot out your retirement income strategy.

Secure 2.0 Act: Changing the way you save for retirement

The Secure 2.0 Act, signed into law at the end of 2022, may empower you to reach your savings goals sooner and offer more flexibility in retirement.


Start of disclosure content

Investment and insurance products and services including annuities are:
Not a deposit • Not FDIC insured • May lose value • Not bank guaranteed • Not insured by any federal government agency.

U.S. Wealth Management – U.S. Bank is a marketing logo for U.S. Bank.

Start of disclosure content

U.S. Bank and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. Your tax and financial situation is unique. You should consult your tax and/or legal advisor for advice and information concerning your particular situation.

The information provided represents the opinion of U.S. Bank and is not intended to be a forecast of future events or guarantee of future results. It is not intended to provide specific investment advice and should not be construed as an offering of securities or recommendation to invest. Not for use as a primary basis of investment decisions. Not to be construed to meet the needs of any particular investor. Not a representation or solicitation or an offer to sell/buy any security. Investors should consult with their investment professional for advice concerning their particular situation.

U.S. Bank does not offer insurance products but may refer you to an affiliated or third party insurance provider.

U.S. Bank is not responsible for and does not guarantee the products, services or performance of U.S. Bancorp Investments, Inc.

Equal Housing Lender. Deposit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Member FDIC. Mortgage, Home Equity and Credit products are offered by U.S. Bank National Association. Loan approval is subject to credit approval and program guidelines. Not all loan programs are available in all states for all loan amounts. Interest rates and program terms are subject to change without notice.