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IRA Required Minimum Distributions

October 26, 2016

Retiring Your Way, Growing Your Wealth, Managing Your Money


The best way to prepare for retirement is to save, early and often. Generally, one should set aside 10% to 15% of one’s income each year. If the habit takes hold early in one’s career, a very meaningful nest egg should be the result.

Saving is easier when there is a tax deduction for it, which helps explain the popularity of the traditional IRA. However, the tax law includes a stipulation that those who have developed the savings habit will find disconcerting. Once one reaches age 70 ½, a program of required minimum IRA distributions must commence. Each year the IRA must disburse an amount geared to the life expectancy of its owner. The reason for the requirement is to make certain that the money saved for retirement gets used for retirement — or, at least, becomes subject to income taxes during retirement.

How large are the payouts?

Required minimum distributions from an IRA won’t exhaust the account before the owner lives beyond age 100, even if the account has poor investment return. Accounts that enjoy even modest returns will keep getting larger in the early years of minimum distributions. This table shows the projected size of a required minimum distribution from a $1 million IRA at various ages, for various rates of return. It also shows total distributions and the balance remaining at age 100, if only required minimum distributions are taken each year. If a 6% annual rate of return can be achieved, the account balance won’t dip below $1 million until age 92.


2% return

4% return

6% return

8% return





















Total payments through  age 100





Remaining balance at age 100





Questions about your IRA and/or distributions? Reach out to our IRA experts.


Source: M.A. Co.   |   Rates of return are for illustration only and do not represent any particular investment. © 2016 M.A. Co. All rights reserved. Any developments occurring after January 1, 2016, are not reflected in this article.

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This blog article is for informational purposes only, and is not an advertisement for a product or service. The accuracy and completeness is not guaranteed and does not constitute legal or tax advice. Please consult with your own tax, legal, and financial advisors.

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