Does this April 2 deadline apply to you?

Published on: 03/20/2012 By: Gorfine, Schiller & Gardyn

If you reached age 70½ last year, April 2, 2012, could be an important deadline. That’s the last day you can take your required minimum distribution (RMD) for 2011 from your traditional IRAs. If you miss that deadline, the penalty could be a 50% excise tax on the amount you should have withdrawn.

Here’s how the rules work. Once you reach age 70½, you must start taking annual distributions from your traditional IRAs. Normally these distributions must occur by December 31 of each year. But a special rule lets you defer the first distribution until April of the year after you reach age 70½. So if you turned 70½ last year, April 2 is the deadline for your 2011 distribution. Be aware that you’ll still need to take your 2012 RMD before the end of this year.

Generally, the amount of the RMD for any year is based on your age. You take the balance in all your traditional IRAs as of the last day of the previous year, and divide by a factor representing your life expectancy. The IRS has published a standard life expectancy table to use in the calculation. Special rules might apply if your spouse is more than ten years younger than you are.

Because all or part of your distribution may be taxable income, it is important to include RMDs in your tax planning. Ideally you should start planning for RMDs several years before you reach age 70½. But whether you’re planning in advance or looking at a distribution on April 2, contact our office for more detailed advice.

The RMD rules don’t apply to Roth IRAs. Unless you’re still working, this deadline also applies to your other retirement accounts.