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What are the rules for 401(k), IRA and 403(b) withdrawals?

I’m 70 12 and have three 401(k) plans. I’ve added my balances in the three, and know the total required minimum distribution known as RMD I need to take out. I want to take that amount from one plan. One 401(k) administrator says I cannot do that; that I must take my RMD only out of their plan, and if I don’t request it they’ll automatically send me a check. My accountant and my financial planner both said the plan administrator is wrong.

The accountant and financial planner are mistaken. The plan administrator is right.

It sounds as if you and your advisers are trying to apply IRA rules to your 401(k) plans. You can add up your traditional IRAs to determine your total RMD and take that RMD from a single IRA if you wish. But 401(k) plans are subject to different rules. You must do a separate RMD calculation for each 401(k) plan, and you must take the appropriate amount from each plan.

I turned 70 in February and have a 403(b) account. I wish to leave this account untouched and take my RMD from my IRAs. However, I was advised that I must begin taking RMDs from the 403(b) account this year or next, or be subject to penalties. This doesn’t seem right. Is it true?

Yes. Taking money from your IRAs cannot satisfy your 403(b) RMD requirement.

For tax purposes, IRAs and 403(b) plans are two different pools of money. After age 70 1⁄2, you must take annual RMDs from both. You can combine your 403(b) balances to calculate your 403(b) RMD; and you can take that RMD from a single 403(b) plan if you wish. But you can’t combine IRAs and 403(b)s.

THE BOTTOM LINE Each type of tax-deferred retirement account has its own RMD rules.

WEBSITES WITH MORE INFORMATION

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