4 new law changes that may affect your retirement plan

If you save for retirement with an IRA or other plan, you’ll be
interested to know that Congress recently passed a law that makes significant
modifications to these accounts. The SECURE Act, which was signed into law on
December 20, 2019, made these four changes.

Change #1: The maximum age for making
traditional IRA contributions is repealed.
Before 2020,
traditional IRA contributions weren’t allowed once you reached age 70½.
Starting in 2020, an individual of any age can make contributions to a
traditional IRA, as long he or she has compensation, which generally means
earned income from wages or self-employment.

Change #2: The required minimum distribution
(RMD) age was raised from 70½ to 72.
Before 2020, retirement
plan participants and IRA owners were generally required to begin taking RMDs
from their plans by April 1 of the year following the year they reached age
70½. The age 70½ requirement was first applied in the early 1960s and, until
recently, hadn’t been adjusted to account for increased life expectancies.

For distributions required to be made after December 31, 2019,
for individuals who attain age 70½ after that date, the age at which
individuals must begin taking distributions from their retirement plans or IRAs
is increased from 70½ to 72.

Change #3: “Stretch IRAs” were partially
If a plan participant or IRA owner died before 2020, their
beneficiaries (spouses and non-spouses) were generally allowed to stretch out
the tax-deferral advantages of the plan or IRA by taking distributions over the
beneficiary’s life or life expectancy. This is sometimes called a “stretch

However, for deaths of plan participants or IRA owners beginning
in 2020 (later for some participants in collectively bargained plans and
governmental plans), distributions to most non-spouse beneficiaries are
generally required to be distributed within 10 years following a plan
participant’s or IRA owner’s death. That means the “stretch” strategy is no
longer allowed for those beneficiaries.

There are some exceptions to the 10-year rule. For example, it’s
still allowed for: the surviving spouse of a plan participant or IRA owner; a
child of a plan participant or IRA owner who hasn’t reached the age of
majority; a chronically ill individual; and any other individual who isn’t more
than 10 years younger than a plan participant or IRA owner. Those beneficiaries
who qualify under this exception may generally still take their distributions
over their life expectancies.

Change #4: Penalty-free withdrawals are now
allowed for birth or adoption expenses.
A distribution from a
retirement plan must generally be included in income. And, unless an exception
applies, a distribution before the age of 59½ is subject to a 10% early
withdrawal penalty on the amount includible in income.

Starting in 2020, plan distributions (up to $5,000) that are
used to pay for expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child are
penalty-free. The $5,000 amount applies on an individual basis. Therefore, each
spouse in a married couple may receive a penalty-free distribution up to $5,000
for a qualified birth or adoption.


These are only some of the changes included in the new law. If
you have questions about your situation, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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