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How the Secure Act Impacts Retirement Accounts?

January 2020

A new federal law, the Setting Up Every Community for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, directly affects retirees and retirement savers. It changes the rules regarding “stretching” an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) as well as longstanding retirement account rules keyed to age 70½.

Under the SECURE ACT, in most circumstances, once you reach age 72, you must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans. (This new RMD rule applies only to those who will turn 70½ in 2020 or later.)

 The SECURE ACT also lets seniors contribute to traditional retirement accounts after age 70½, as long as they have earned income; previously, this was forbidden. Both these changes have big implications for savers; large account balances can potentially grow and compound a little more before being drawn down, and amounts contributed after age 70½ could have a chance to compound as well. Turning to the workplace, the SECURE ACT allows employer-sponsored retirement plans the option to include insurance products, offering the potential for lifelong income. It also opens a door for small businesses to join multi-employer group retirement plans (MEPs). 

The new law does curtail the Stretch IRA estate strategy. Anyone who inherits an IRA of any kind in 2020 or later must withdraw the whole IRA balance within 10 years of the IRA owner’s death and pay linked taxes.  Some beneficiaries including spouses and minor children are exempt from this rule (Existing inherited IRAs are exempt from the new rules.) The SECURE Act is certainly worth a conversation.1,2 

Withdrawals from Traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Under the SECURE Act, an IRA holders’ inheritance must be distributed by the end of the 10th calendar year following the year of the Individual Retirement Account (IRA) owner's death. A surviving spouse of the IRA owner, disabled or chronically ill individuals, individuals who are not more than 10 years younger than the IRA owner, and child of the IRA owner who has not reached the age of majority may have other minimum distribution requirements.