If you have an IRA then you know that at age 70 ½ the government forces you to begin taking distributions so they can tax money that has, up to now, escaped their clutches.
Most people use the Uniform Lifetime Table to figure their Required Minimum Distribution. Find your age, get the life expectancy factor and divide it into the value of your IRA on December 31st of the previous year. That gives you the minimum you have to withdraw this year.
But, if your spouse is at least 10 years younger than you and is the sole beneficiary of your IRA for the entire year, you get to use the Joint Life Expectancy Table which means a lower RMD.
If you are 72 years old, your life expectancy factor is 25.6. If the value of your IRA on December 31st last year was $500,000 your required minimum distribution for this year is $19,531.25.
But if you’re 72 and your spouse is 60, the life expectancy factor is 27 and this year’s required distribution equals $18,518.52.
The IRS has a very useful RMD Uniform Lifetime Worksheet and a Joint Life Expectancy Worksheet. And you can find out more about Required Minimum Distribution rules and regulations in IRS publication 590-B.