You might be familiar with Roth IRAs or you might even have one yourself. But while Roth IRAs can be simple and highly flexible retirement vehicles for the original owners, people who inherit IRAs deal with more limited options. While Roth IRA owners are not required to take withdrawals during their lifetime, beneficiaries are subject to RMD rules, which changed for 2023. In this article, we’ll explore how inherited Roth IRAs must be distributed to their beneficiaries. If you’d like personalized financial advice, consider working with a financial advisor.
What Are Roth IRAs?
A Roth IRA is a tax-advantaged individual retirement account. You contribute after-tax money to a Roth IRA and are not taxed when you withdraw it, as long as you’re age 59 ½ or older and have had the account for at least five years.
Roth IRAs do have income and contribution limits, so if you make a large income you may only be able to contribute a limited amount to or not even open a Roth IRA at all. If you qualify, you can contribute $6,500 to your Roth IRA in 2023 or $7,500 if you’re 50 or older.
How Roth IRA RMDs Work
RMD stands for “required minimum distribution,” and it’s the minimum amount you have to withdraw from your retirement account each year. Traditional IRAs, 401(k) plans and other tax-advantaged retirement accounts require minimum distribution when their owners turn 73, but Roth IRAs don’t have RMD rules for their original owners. You’ll only need to worry about RMDs if you’ve inherited a Roth IRA.
If you don’t take the RMD on an inherited Roth IRA, you’ll have to pay a 50% penalty on the missed withdrawal. There are a few things that affect your RMD, including when the owner died, at what age the owner died and your relationship to the owner.
If you’re the spouse of the original owner, you have two options. One is that you can transfer the funds into your own Roth IRA and treat it as if you were the original owner. Another is that you can start taking RMDs at the age that the original owner would have begun taking their RMDs.
If you’re not the spouse of the original owner, you must empty the account by Dec. 31 of the 10th year following the owner’s death. The IRS allows exceptions if the beneficiary is a minor, though.
These options are simplified, so you might want to enlist the help of a financial advisor to help you determine the best course of action before you take any steps.
How Roth IRA RMD Rules Changed for 2023 and Beyond
The SECURE Act 2.0, which was enacted in December 2022, has a number of implications for Roth IRAs, some that have already been implemented and some that are coming soon. Here are some of the major ones.
- Beginning in 2024, surviving spouses who are the sole beneficiary of a Roth IRA may elect to be treated as a deceased employees for purposes of RMDs and so not have to take any RMDs during their lifetime. However, such a move is irrevocable and the surviving spouse must be younger than the deceased spouse.
- The newly enacted law provides that if you are turning 72 in 2023, you now have until April 2025 to make your first RMD. If you are turning 73 in 2023 you have April 2024 to begin withdrawing from your account. Secure Act 2.0 also provides that the age rises to 74 in 2029 and to 75 beginning in 2033.
- The penalty for missing an RMD has been lowered. It used to be 50% of the RMD you missed, but the Secure Act 2.0 cut it to 25%. It will be lowered further to 10% if you correct it quickly with the IRS.
How to Calculate Your RMD for 2023
The IRS determines your RMD so you’ll need to use their tables to find how much you should be withdrawing each year. First, you’ll need to identify your age and correspondent distribution period in Table 1 of Publication 590-B. Then divide the balance of your retirement account as of December 30 of the previous year by the life expectancy number.
Say you’re 55 and have a balance of $50,000 in your inherited Roth IRA on Dec. 30, 2022. Your RMD for 2023 would be $1,572.27.
This can get more complicated if your spouse is more than 10 years younger than you and is the sole primary beneficiary to your account. You’ll need to use a different IRS table—the Joint Life and Last Survivor Expectancy Table.
The Bottom Line
Roth IRA RMDs don’t apply for the original owner but kick in if you inherit the account and understanding your options can be complicated. Make sure you know how much you need to withdraw and when to avoid any trouble and penalties from the IRS. Adding withdrawals to your retirement planning can be key to not just preparing financially to meet your needs but also to prevent having to pay penalties in retirement.
Tips on Retirement Planning
- A financial advisor or tax advisor can be a big help in putting together a retirement income plan that accounts for living expenses, taxes and other considerations. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- To avoid a stiff penalty, make sure you withdraw your RMDs by the appropriate deadline. But don’t worry. Most people satisfy their RMDs and then some within a given year. And to help you avoid some pitfalls, our retirement experts published a report on tips for understanding required minimum distribution rules.
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