If you have a Roth IRA, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) never requires you to remove the money from your account. However, the holders of all other types of IRAs are required to begin making withdrawals during the year that they turn 70 1/2. Failure to withdraw the minimum amount results in a 50 percent penalty when you file your income taxes. The minimum withdrawal from an IRA, also called a required minimum distribution, or RMD, depends on your life expectancy and the value of your account.
Determine the value of your IRA at the end of the previous year. This is the value that matters for determining the minimum withdrawal from your IRA. If you do not have records, you can call your financial institution, which is required to keep this information.
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Determine your age as of the end of the year, not the beginning of the year. For example, if you will turn 80 in November, you would use 80 as your age rather than 79.
Use the uniform life expectancy table, found in the appendix of IRS Publication 590, unless your spouse is at least 10 years your junior, to find your life expectancy based on your age. If your spouse is 10 years or more younger than you, use the joint and last survivor table to find your life expectancy based on both of your ages. For example, if you are 78 and your spouse is 62, you would find the life expectancy to be 32.8 years.
Divide your IRA's value by your life expectancy. Finishing the example, if your account's value from the end of the previous year is $78,000, you would divide $78,000 by 32.8 to get $2,378.05 as your minimum withdrawal.
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IRS Publication 590