The Department of the Treasury and the IRS reviewed the life expectancy tables that are used to calculate required minimum distributions from IRAs and other retirement plans and have issued proposed regulations to update those tables to reflect longer life expectancies. These tables have not been updated since 2002. These new tables are scheduled to be effective for distributions beginning in 2021 provided that the proposed regulations are finalized.
As an example, a 70-year old IRA owner who uses the current Uniform Lifetime Table to calculate required minimum distributions must use a life expectancy of 27.4 years under the existing regulations. Using the Uniform Lifetime Table set forth in the proposed regulations, this IRA owner would use a life expectancy of 29.1 years to calculate required minimum distributions. The effect of these proposed changes is to reduce required minimum distributions, which will allow participants to retain larger amounts in their retirement plans to account for the possibility they may live longer.
Additionally, to the extent that a taxpayer has the financial means to only take the required minimum distribution from their IRA or other retirement accounts, these proposed changes will result in tax savings.
In our June 2019 newsletter, we highlighted changes proposed by the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act” (commonly known as the SECURE Act). As noted in that newsletter, the SECURE Act would extend the age at which required minimum distributions must begin from 70 ½ years to 72 years. If passed, this would also benefit taxpayers who otherwise have the financial means to delay taking distributions from their IRAs or other retirement accounts. On the flip side, however, the SECURE Act would require beneficiaries to withdraw all IRA assets 10 years after the owner’s death rather than over the beneficiary’s life expectancy. The SECURE Act appears to be stalled in the Senate but we will keep you posted on its status.
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