The new Setting Every Community Up For Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, just signed by the President , is the broadest piece of retirement legislation passed in 13 years. Ultimately, the law focuses on retirement planning in three key areas: 1) modifying required minimum distribution (RMD) rules for retirement plans; 2) expanding retirement plan access and 3) increasing lifetime income options in retirement plans.
The most immediate impact of the bill will be felt by those nearing or in retirement.
Before the SECURE Act, if you had money in a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) or an employer-sponsored retirement plan and were retired, you were required by law to start making withdrawals at age 70 ½. But for people who haven’t hit 70 ½ by the end of 2019, the SECURE Act pushes out the RMD start date for most situations until age 72.
By pushing back the RMD start date, the SECURE Act gives you additional time to allow your IRAs and 401(k)s to grow without being depleted by distributions and taxes.
Because RMDs won’t start until age 72, the new law will give you an additional two years to do what are known as Roth IRA conversions without having to worry about the impact of required distributions. With a Roth IRA, unlike a traditional IRA, withdrawals are tax-free as long as you meet certain requirements and there are no RMDs during your lifetime. The general goal of a Roth conversion is to convert taxable money in an IRA into a Roth IRA at lower tax rates today than you expect to pay in the future.
While you can do Roth conversions after you start RMDs, the process is a lot harder.
The SECURE Act also increased retirement savings opportunities in a number of ways.
Before this law, you couldn’t contribute to a tax-deductible IRA after age 70 ½. But with the SECURE Act, you can. So, if you plan on working into your 70s, you can still put money into a deductible IRA. Those over 70 ½ in 2019 won’t be able to save in an IRA for this year.
This law change means a couple over 70 ½ will be allowed to save to an IRA over $14,000 in 2020 if both spouses are contributing the maximum of $7,000 a year. This can help them receive a valuable tax deduction and save for the future.
As more retirees are looking for ways to go back to work part-time in an encore career or in the gig economy, the SECURE Act will provide additional retirement funding flexibility for years to come.