If you own an individual requirement account when you turn 70 1/2, the Internal Revenue Service demands that you begin taking required minimum distributions from the account. The RMD is calculated using figures from an IRS life-expectancy table. If you fail to withdraw at least the correct RMD amount, the IRS slaps you with a 50 percent penalty. Clearly, learning to calculate the RMD is critical.
Find out which IRS table applies to you. Most taxpayers use the Uniform Lifetime Table. But if your spouse is 10 years or more your junior, you have to use the Joint Life and Last Survivor Expectancy table. Beneficiaries use the Single Life Expectancy table.Step 2
Look up the figure that corresponds to your age on the table. For example, if you are 72 and use the Uniform Lifetime Table, you will see the figure 25.6 next to age 72.Step 3
Get the end-of-year balance of your IRA. You can find this information on your online statement. You might also be able to obtain the information by phone from your trustee. For example purposes, we'll adopt a balance of $250,000.Step 4
Divide the end-of-year balance by the IRS table figure. Returning to our example, $250,000 divided by 25.6 = $9,765.62, the RMD for the year.
- The Uniform Lifetime Table figures decrease as your age increases. Your account balance is also likely to fluctuate over time. Therefore, you must calculate the RMD anew each year.
- Often, your trustee will calculate the RMD and send you the distribution. However, even trustees can make errors. Learning to do the calculation for yourself is savvy.
D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.