You can fix a required minimum distribution mistake from a retirement account. The rules around required minimum distributions fare confusing, and it’s easy to slip up. Fortunately, if you do make a mistake, there are steps you can take to fix the error and possibly avoid a stiff penalty.
If you have a tax-deferred retirement plan such as a traditional IRA or 401(k), you are required to begin taking distributions once you reach a certain age, with the withdrawn money taxed at your then-current tax rate. If you were age 70 1/2 before the end of 2019, you had to begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) in April of the year after you turned 70. But if you were not yet 70 1/2 by the end of 2019, you can wait to take RMDs until age 72. (For tax year 2020, you do are not required to take a distribution). If you miss a withdrawal or take less than you were required to, you must pay a 50 percent excise tax on the amount that should have been distributed but was not.
It can be easy to miss a distribution or not withdraw the correct amount. If you make a mistake, the first step is to quickly correct the mistake and take the correct distribution. If you missed more than one distribution – either from multiple years or because you withdrew from several different accounts in the same year — it is better to take each distribution separately and for exactly the amount of the shortfall.
The next step is to file IRS form 5329. If you have more than one missed distribution, you can include them on one form as long as they all occurred in the same year. If you missed distributions in multiple years, you need to file a separate form for each year. And married couples who both miss a distribution need to each file their own forms. The form can be tricky, so follow the instructions closely to make sure you correctly fill it out. You should also consider contacting a CPA to ensure that you have completed the form correctly.
In addition to completing form 5329, you should submit a letter, explaining why you missed the distribution and informing the IRS that you have now made the correct distributions. There is no clear definition of what the IRS will consider a reasonable explanation for missing a distribution. If the IRS does not waive the penalty, it will send you a notice.
For more detailed information on how to correct an RMD mistake, click here.
The Stinson Law Firm has years of experience advising clients with their estate and asset protection planning needs. Please contact us at 317-622-8181 or www.stinsonelderlaw.com to schedule an appointment to create or review your plan today.
Jeff is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation, a distinction held by only a handful of lawyers in Indiana. For almost 20 years, he has focused on elder law, estate planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, Veterans Affairs benefits planning, special needs planning, guardianships, and estate administration.