Required minimum distributions (RMDs) are withdrawals you have to make from most retirement plans (excluding Roth IRAs) when you reach the age of 72 (or 70.5 if you were born before July 1, 1949). The amount you must withdraw depends on the balance in your account and your life expectancy as defined by the IRS. If you have more than one retirement account, you can take a distribution from each account or you can total your RMD amounts and take the distribution from one or more of the accounts. RMDs for a given year must be taken by December 31 of that year, though you get more time the first year you are required to take an RMD.

That said, all RMDs for 2020 have been waived due to the coronavirus pandemic. The temporary waiver also applies to people who were required to take their first RMD in 2019 but planned on delaying until April 1 (the extra time they get because it is the first time). If you’ve already taken your RMD for 2020, you normally have a 60-day window to return or roll over the money. However, the IRS has extended that window to July 15 for RMDs taken between February 1 and  May 15. If you’re not sure whether to return the RMD or you need help with other retirement decisions, a financial advisor can help your figure out the best choices for your needs and goals.

What Is a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)?

An RMD is the minimum amount of money you must withdraw from a tax-deferred retirement plan and pay ordinary income taxes on after you reach age 72 (or 70.5 if you were born before July 1, 1949). Once you reach this milestone, you generally must take an RMD each year by December 31. We’ll explain the exceptions and how to calculate RMDs. But first, let’s see what types of plans require RMDs and which don’t. RMDs apply to the following retirement plans: