I'll be 72 in November 2021. I know I have until April 2022 to take my required minimum distribution; but I'll take it in 2021 so I don't have to take two RMDs in 2022. Can I take distributions throughout the year, before turning 72? Or must I take the full RMD amount in December 2021?
You can take distributions throughout the year. They just have to add up to not less than your total RMD by Dec. 31, 2021. That RMD is based on your IRA balance at year-end 2020.
With one exception, an annual RMD must be taken by Dec. 31 every year. The exception is your first RMD, which you can delay until April 1 of the following year. Since the 2021 RMD is your first, you could wait until April 1 of 2022 to take it. (It would still be based on your Dec. 31, 2020, IRA balance.) But as you say, you'd then have to take two RMDs in 2022.
I turned 70½ in 2019 and took my first RMD in 2019. I assume the SECURE Act applies to me, so my next RDM is due this year. Am I correct?
You were born before June 30, 1949, so you were subject to a previous rule and had to take your first RMD after reaching age 70½. (Your 2019 RMD was the first, so you had until April 1, 2020, to take it; but you didn't use that extension.)
Normally, you would have had to take your second RMD by Dec. 31, 2020. But the SECURE Act waived 2020 RMDs. Next up is a 2021 RMD, to be taken by Dec. 31, 2021, based on your Dec. 31, 2020, balance.
The bottom line
You can take an RMD at anytime during the year it's due.
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