There are some new rules for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement savings accounts (e.g., traditional IRAs and 401(k) plans). The SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 makes significant changes to the way people save for and are taxed in retirement. RMDs are one of the major areas of focus in the law.
It wasn't all that long ago that the retirement-savings landscape was shaken up. Among other things, the original SECURE Act, which was enacted in 2019, extended the age at which you must start taking RMDs from 70½ to 72. That was a big boost for many older adults, who can now keep money in their tax-free retirement accounts a little longer. But that wasn't enough help for retirees in the eyes of many lawmakers. So, Congress began planning additional legislation to help more people save for retirement and hold on to their money longer in retirement. Those efforts resulted in the SECURE 2.0 Act.
For retirees, or those approaching retirement, who are worried about mandatory retirement account distributions, getting up to speed on the new RMD changes is important. You need to know how the new RMD rules will impact you to properly plan your finances in the future.
[Note: For an overview of the SECURE 2.0 Act, see our SECURE 2.0 Act Summary.
Age when RMDs are first required
Before the SECURE 2.0 Act you had to start taking RMDs from 401(k) accounts, traditional IRAs, and similar retirement savings accounts (other than Roth IRAs) in the year you turned 72 (although you had until April 1 of the following year to take your first RMD). However, the SECURE 2.0 Act eventually pushes the age for starting RMDs to 75 after moving it to 73 as of 2023.
There is a two-step process under the SECURE 2.0 Act for increasing in the age when RMDs become necessary. Step 1: Beginning in 2023, the age to start taking RMDs jumped from 72 to 73. Step 2: Beginning in 2033, it creeps up again to 75.
The SECURE 2.0 Act reduces the penalty for failing to take an RMD to 25% in all cases. In addition, the penalty drops down to 10% if you take the necessary RMD by the end of the second year following the year it was due.
So, for example, if you fail to take an RMD due in 2022, the penalty is knocked down to 10% if you withdraw the necessary funds by December 31, 2024. These penalty-reduction provisions apply beginning in 2023.
For some seniors, the SECURE 2.0 Act will also delay the start of the statute of limitations for assessing the penalty. For people who aren't required to file an income tax return for the tax year in question, the three-year limitations period starts on the date that an income tax return would have been due (excluding any extensions), instead of the date a tax return for the year is actually filed, which can be later than the normal due date. By starting the clock sooner, some people might avoid the penalty if the IRS is slow in assessing it.
RMDs for Roth 401(k) accounts
There are no RMDs for Roth IRAs. However, RMDs are currently required for Roth 401(k) accounts. You can get around the Roth 401(k) RMD rules by rolling over the money into a Roth IRA. But watch out for the Roth IRA five-year rule – if you're not careful, you may have to wait five years to pull your money out of the Roth IRA.
The SECURE 2.0 Act does away with the need to roll over funds from a Roth 401(k) to a Roth IRA. Instead, as with Roth IRAs, Roth 401(k) accounts won't be subject to the RMD rules before the account holder dies. (Post-death minimum distribution rules, which also apply to Roth IRAs, still apply.)
This change generally kicks in starting in 2024; however, an exception applies to RMDs required before 2024 but not required to be paid until January 1, 2024, or later.
Annuities and RMDs
The SECURE 2.0 Act addresses a few issues related to the use of annuities with retirement savings accounts. For instance, if a retirement account includes an annuity, the account was split under prior law between the part holding the annuity and the part that doesn't for purposes of applying the RMD rules. This could result in higher RMDs. SECURE 2.0 allows you to combine distributions from both parts when calculating your annual RMD amount.
In addition, to help make annuities a more attractive component of retirement plans, the SECURE 2.0 Act allows the following payments if certain requirements are satisfied:
- Annuity payments that increase at least annually up to 5% per year;
- Lump sum payments that result in a shortening of the payment period with respect to an annuity or a full or partial commutation of the future annuity payments;
- Lump sum payments that accelerate the receipt of annuity payments that are scheduled to be received within the next 12 months;
- Payments "in the nature of a dividend" or similar distribution; and
- Final payments upon death that don't exceed the total amount of consideration paid for the annuity payments, minus the aggregate amount of prior distributions or payments from or under the contract.
Finally, SECURE 2.0 boosts the use of qualifying longevity annuity contracts (QLACs). Generally, with a QLAC, you can invest up to $130,000 (2022 amount) or 25% of a retirement account, whichever is less, and shield those funds from RMDs.
SECURE 2.0 repeals the 25% limit and bumps the dollar amount up to $200,000 (adjusted for inflation each year). It also clarifies that (1) survivor benefits can be paid following a divorce, and (2) an employee has 90 days from the purchase date to rescind a QLAC.
RMDs for surviving spouses
Special rules currently exist for determining when a surviving spouse must start taking RMDs from an inherited retirement account. One of those rules states that, if an account holder dies before RMDs are required and his or her surviving spouse is the beneficiary (and doesn't change that status), RMDs from the inherited account aren't required until the year in which the deceased account holder would have reached age 72.
SECURE 2.0 tweaks this rule by also allowing the surviving spouse to be treated as the deceased account owner for RMD purposes starting in 2024. In some cases, this will allow the surviving spouse to delay taking RMDs from the inherited account – e.g., if the surviving spouse is younger than the deceased spouse.
The surviving spouse will have to elect this treatment according to procedures the IRS will have to establish, and the election will be irrevocable. The surviving spouse will also have to notify the account administrator.
QCDs used to lower RMDs
Money donated to charity through a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) counts towards your RMD. So, for charitable minded seniors, QCDs are a great way to reduce the amount of money you otherwise have to withdraw from an IRA. However, QCDs are capped at $100,000 per year…and that amount doesn't go up each year.
The SECURE 2.0 Act allows the $100,000 limit to be adjusted annually for inflation (rounded to the nearest $1,000). The adjustments will begin in 2024. In addition, starting in 2023, a one-time QCD of up to $50,000 to charities is allowed through certain charitable remainder annuity trusts, charitable remainder unitrusts, or charitable gift annuities.
Rocky Mengle was a Senior Tax Editor for Kiplinger from October 2018 to January 2023 with more than 20 years of experience covering federal and state tax developments. Before coming to Kiplinger, Rocky worked for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, and Kleinrock Publishing, where he provided breaking news and guidance for CPAs, tax attorneys, and other tax professionals. He has also been quoted as an expert by USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Reuters, Accounting Today, and other media outlets. Rocky holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut and a B.A. in History from Salisbury University.
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