Weekend Reading: Why Advisors Should Rethink the ‘M’ in RMD

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

Here’s a simple tax saving strategy: Take more than the minimum of your RMD and leverage that withdrawal before it must be taken.


This is why: Given that tax rates are set to rise in 2025, you can make the most of today’s lower rate environment by changing your RMD mindset from “Minimum” to “Maximum”. This puts more tax control in your hands by focusing on how much you can withdraw now at the lowest tax rates, instead of remaining on the government’s timeline. Not only can taking a pre-RMD before age 72 reap you tax benefits, but also any IRA beneficiaries down the road who are subject to the SECURE Act.

The role of Roth conversions: Taking RMDs sooner rather than later also lends savings to Roth conversions. When you begin taking RMDs, Roth conversions become more expensive “since the RMD itself cannot be converted to a Roth IRA.” After the RMD is satisfied, “all or any part of the IRA balance can be converted for the year, but that will cost more since the RMD had to be taken first.” If you think you could be in a higher tax rate in the future, Roth conversions before RMDs is important, and can be taken as a series of smaller annual conversions instead of one lump sum.

QCDs: If you give to charity, you can also elevate your tax efficiency by utilizing qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) beginning at age 70 ½., which provide a “direct transfer from the IRA to a qualified charity”. These are best leveraged early in the year prior to RMDs as well, because “if the QCD amount equals or exceeds the RMD amount, then the RMD is considered satisfied” for the year.

Take the front seat: You want to ensure you are on YOUR plan, not the government’s. You have a window of opportunity where you are in control after age 59 ½ and before turning 72. Don’t miss it!