|Pathways Advisory Group, Inc.|
Evon Mendrin, CFP®
Coronavirus-Related Distributions from Retirement Accounts
Waiving Required Minimum Distributions in 2020
Generally, when owners of pre-tax retirement accounts reach age 72 (recently extended from 70 ½ by the SECURE Act), they are required to take a certain distribution amount each year. This is a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). Distributions are also required when non-spouse beneficiaries inherit retirement accounts.
However, Congress is waiving all RMDs in calendar year 2020! This includes traditional IRAs, SIMPLE and SEP IRAs, 403b, 401k, and government 457 plans. The waiver applies to the account owners themselves, as well as beneficiaries taking annual required distributions.
If you turned 70 ½ in 2019 (still under the old law), but waited to take your RMD until early 2020 (before April 1), you also benefit. That distribution is no longer required, saving you two required withdrawals in 2020!
This is a big help for retirees who don’t need to take RMDs for living expenses - whether due to pension income or other taxable investments. The ability to avoid selling when stocks have declined - or even to rebalance - is a great long-term benefit. This also helps to keep the extra taxable income off of the 2020 tax return.
What if you already took the RMD for 2020 - even a part of it? Well, there’s no direct provision to return those funds to the account.
One potential way to return the funds - and avoid the extra taxable income - is to complete a 60-day rollover. If the distribution occurred within the last 60 calendar days, you can deposit the same amount withdrawn back into an eligible retirement account by the 60th day.
This can only be done if you have not already completed a similar 60-day rollover within the last 12 months. If taxes were withheld on the original withdrawals, the full amount needs to be re-deposited to avoid the taxable income. These can be tricky. It makes sense to chat with your financial/tax advisors on the process.
A second approach - if past 60-days - is if you can show you’ve been impacted by the coronavirus (as written above). If so, you can treat the withdrawals as Coronavirus-Related Distributions.
In that case, you can redeposit the withdrawn amounts over the next three years (from the date of withdrawal). Or, if you choose to keep the withdrawn amounts, you can spread the taxable income over the next three years.
What about beneficiaries? Can they redeposit the funds? Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear so. Beneficiaries can’t complete 60-day rollovers. There doesn’t seem to be a way to get them back into the account. (Different rules for spousal beneficiaries.)
Not perfect solutions, but you may be able to take some action. It makes sense to reevaluate your RMD plan for the rest of the year - including any potential Qualified Charitable Distributions - if the retirement funds aren’t needed for expenses.
2020 Skipped for 5-Year Rule RMDs
A non-designated beneficiary is a non-living, non-breathing beneficiary. Think estates, charities, certain Trusts. When a non-designated beneficiary inherits a retirement account from someone before they reach the age to begin RMDs, there’s a 5-year rule for distribution. The entire account must be withdrawn by the end of the fifth year after death.
However, the CARES Act allows those beneficiaries to skip 2020 when counting the 5 years. It can just be ignored, giving those beneficiaries a 6th year. Of course, this only works for an account owner that passed before 2020. If the date of death was 2020, the 5-years don’t begin until next year!
Loans from Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans
Many 401k and other employer-sponsored retirement plans allow participants to take loans of a portion of their account values. If you’ve been impacted by the coronavirus (same definitions as above), the CARES Act adjusted the rules for these loans.
For those affected, the maximum loan amount increased to $100,000 (from $50,000).
100% of your vested account balance can be used (up to the $100,000 limit). Typically, when your account is more than $20,000, you can only take a loan of up to 50% of the vested balance.
Lastly, the law allows you to delay payments that would be owed from the date of the law through the end of 2020 for up to one year.
Hopefully, a source of last resort, this allows cash-strapped Americans one more source of funds.
These provisions should allow some relief to those extremely cash-strapped in light of the coronavirus. It also helps those who are able to avoid selling during a market decline and avoid the extra taxable income. Stay tuned for our next article on how the CARES Act helps small businesses!
As always, chat with your tax professional to determine how these provisions affect your tax situation.
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- Actions We're Taking During Market Declines