Congress passed the largest economic stimulus bill in the nation’s history in March 2020 to address problems caused by the global coronavirus pandemic. Its provisions include a waiver of the rule requiring employees to take a minimum distribution from certain types of retirement accounts by a date after they attain a particular age or when they retire, whichever is later. In 2019, Congress amended the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) to change the age after which a person must take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from 70½ to 72. People who turned 70½ in 2019 were not covered by the new law, however, which created some confusion. The coronavirus stimulus bill alleviates this confusion by waiving all RMDs during 2020.
Required Minimum Distributions Before 2020
Section 401(a)(9) of the IRC requires employees with individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and certain other types of retirement accounts to take an RMD by a “required beginning date,” defined as April 1 of the year following whichever occurs later:
– The person “attains age 70½”; or
– The person retires.
The use of a “half birthday” caused some confusion for people, since anyone born more than halfway through a calendar year would not turn 70½ until the following calendar year. For example, a person who turned 70 in June 2010 would turn 70½ in December 2010. Their RMD date would be April 1, 2011. A person who turned 70 in July 2010, however, would turn 70½ in January 2011. Their RMD date would be the following year, on April 1, 2012.