When It Comes to Your RMDs, Be Very, Very Afraid!

If you’ve saved heavily in a traditional IRA or 401(k) you may feel great about your retirement savings now, but your required minimum distributions can be frighteningly large in retirement. And the tax bill they generate can be even scarier.

A businesswoman bites her nails.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Editor’s note: This is part two of a seven-part series on retirement tax bombs. It dives more deeply into how required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred savings can become a snowballing tax liability in retirement. If you missed the introductory article, you may find it helpful to start here.

For the remaining articles in this series, I’ll use a case study of a couple aged 40 who has saved $500,000 combined in pre-tax retirement accounts. Presumably, this couple is tracking well for a secure retirement. After maxing out their retirement plan contributions, they may not have much cash flow left over and may feel like they’re barely making ends meet. I meet couples like this all time. They aren’t rich, they’re simply good savers doing exactly what conventional wisdom has taught them to do.

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David McClellan
Partner, Forum Financial Management

David McClellan is a partner with Forum Financial Management, LP, a Registered Investment Adviser that manages more than $7 billion in client assets. He is also VP and Head of Wealth Management Solutions at AiVante, a technology company that uses artificial intelligence to predict lifetime medical expenses. Previously David spent nearly 15 years in executive roles with Morningstar (where he designed retirement income planning software) and Pershing.  David is based in Austin, Texas, but works with clients nationwide. His practice focuses on financial life coaching and retirement planning. He frequently helps clients assess and defuse retirement tax bombs.