ERISA consultants at the Retirement Learning Center (RLC) Resource Desk regularly receive calls from financial advisors on a broad array of technical topics related to IRAs, qualified retirement plans and other types of retirement savings and income plans, including nonqualified plans, stock options, and Social Security and Medicare. We bring Case of the Week to you to highlight the most relevant topics affecting your business.

A recent call with a financial advisor from Minnesota is representative of a common inquiry related to required minimum distributions. The advisor asked: “I have a client who has a 401(k) plan and an IRA. She turned age 70½ in 2019. How do the changes to required minimum distribution (RMD) rules affect her?”

Highlights of the Discussion

The short answer is that she is unaffected by the increase in the age at which RMDs must begin as a result of recent law changes. The increase in the RMD age (from 70 ½ to 72) as enacted under provisions from the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act) is effective for individuals turning 70 ½ after December 31, 2019. (See Sec. 114 on page 623 of Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020.)

Because your client turned 70 ½ in 2019, as an IRA owner, her required beginning date (RBD) for taking her first RMD remains April 1, 2020. Her RBD for the RMD due from her 401(k) plan is subject to the specific provisions of the plan, and would be April 1, 2020, if her plan does not include the special language that allows certain participants to delay their RBD until April 1 following the year they retire. The delayed RBD provision that some plans offer allows still-working participants who do not own more than five percent of the business to delay their RBD until April 1 of the year following their retirement.

Keep in mind that a 50 percent penalty tax could apply if a person fails to take his or her RMD on a timely basis.


The new rule that delays a person’s RBD until April 1 following the year he or she turns age 72 applies to distributions required to be made after December 31, 2019, with respect to individuals who attain age 70 ½ after such date.

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