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February 16, 2021

Required beginning date (RBD)

Your Guide


Required Beginning Date

The deadline by which an individual must start taking require minimum distributions (RMD)s from a retirement account. RMDs do not apply to Roth IRA owners.


The date by which a retirement account owner must begin distributing required minimum distribution (RMD) amounts from a TraditionalSEP or SIMPLE IRA, a qualified plan account 403(b) or governmental 457(b) account.

For IRAs, the required beginning date (RBD) is April 1 of the year following the year the individual reaches age 72.

For qualified plans, 403(b) and 457(b) accounts, the RBD is April 1, following the calendar year in which the later of the following occurs:

  • The year the individual reaches age 72 (70 ½  for those who reached age 70 1/2 before 2020) or
  • The year the individual retires from employment with the employer that sponsors the plan.

By definition, the term ‘qualified plan’ include pension plans, 401(k) plans, money purchase pension plans and stock bonus plans. The rules that apply to qualified plans may differ from the rules that apply to 403(b) and 457(b) plans.

But see “additional helpful information ‘ below.

Note: For 5-percent owners, the required beginning date is April 1 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which the employee attains age 72, even if the employee has not retired.

Referring Cite

IRC § 401(a)(9)(C); Treas.Reg. § 1.401(a)(9)-2,

Additional Helpful Information

  • For purposes of the RMD rules, a 5-percent owner is an employee who is a 5-percent owner with respect to the plan year ending in the calendar year in which the employee attains age 72.
  • A qualified plan is permitted to provide that the RBD for all employees is April 1 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which an employee attains age 72, regardless of whether the employee is a 5-percent owner.[Treas. Reg. 1.401(a)(9)-2, Q&A 2(e)]. That is, while the regulations do permit qualified plans to be designed to allow employees (other than 5% owners) to delay their RBD past age 72 if they are still employed, it is an optional provision. Therefore, the plan can define the RBD for all employees as April 1 of the year, following the year they reach age 72. Therefore, employees must refer to the summary plan description (SPD) or check with the plan administrator to determine the RBD that applies to their plan

Written By

Denise Appleby

Denise is CEO of Appleby Retirement Consulting Inc., a firm that provides IRA resources for financial/ tax/legal professionals. She has over 20 years of experience in the retirement plans field, which includes training and technical consultation.

Denise writes and publishes educational /marketing tools for advisors; available at Denise co-authored several books on IRAs

Denise is a graduate of The John Marshall Law School, where she obtained a Masters of Jurisprudence in Employee Benefits, and has earned 5 professional retirement designations.
She has appeared on numerous media programs, sharing her insights on retirement tax laws.


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