Seniors Get a Tax Break in 2009 – Congress Suspends RMD

December 12, 2008

I know many people were hoping this would pass for 2008 rather than 2009, but I guess late is better than not at all.

Congress approved legislation this week that will provide some relief to Americans over 70 1/2 who have suffered significant losses in their IRA accounts.  The bill will temporarily suspend the excise tax that is levied when seniors fail to the the required minimum distribution (RMD) from their retirement accounts.

This penalty is waived for 2009, which means that seniors will not be required to take withdrawals from their tax deferred retirement accounts during 2009, which will hopefully give these accounts time to recover before the 2010 required distribution.  Unfortunately, this law does not apply to 2008 when it would have made the most difference to investors who have lost significant amounts in their accounts.

If you’re not familiar with the RMD, basically taxpayers who are age 70 1/2 must take annual required minimum distributions from their tax-deferred retirement accounts, including traditional IRAs, 401Ks and 403Bs.  The amount is based on your life expectancy and the prior December 31 balance of your account.  Failure to withdraw this amount and you will be levied a 50 percent penalty on the amount that you should have withdrawn… and this is in addition to your regular income tax!

Surprisingly, there is still talk that the RMD for 2008 will be suspended.  If relief is passed for 2008, taxpayers who have already taken their distributions will be allowed to re-contribute those funds so they don’t have to pay taxes on them.  We should know by mid next week if the 2008 RMD is also suspended.

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  1. The measure isn’t law just yet. The House passed H.R.. 7327 on December 10 which now moves into the Senate for a vote. If they pass the bill (as anticipated), then it’s off to President Bush to sign into law.

    So relief appears to be on the way, barring any unforseen interruptions in Congress. It’s just a little early to call this a done deal.

  2. Whoops, I just saw the Senate approved the bill on December 11. Off to the President’s desk, then!

  3. Kristine McKinley says:

    Yep, it’s off to the President to sign. I know I jumped the gun a bit, but since he’s expected to sign, I went ahead and posted. Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

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Kiplinger Magazine/NAPFA – Kristine McKinley answered reader’s tax questions during the 2013 Jump Start Your Retirement Plan Days sponsored by Kiplinger magazine and the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation.