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ComplianceTax & AccountingNovember 23, 2020

IRA required minimum distributions: IRS issues updated life expectancy tables


On November 6, 2020 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the final regulation updating the Life Expectancy and Distribution Period Tables used for purposes of determining required minimum distributions (RMDs) applicable to qualified employer plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). These updated tables reflect a slight increase in life expectancy from the current divisors.

Life expectancy and distribution period tables

Three tables are used to determine RMDs:

  • Joint and Last Survivor Table: used by an IRA owner to calculate his/her annual RMD if his/her spouse is the sole beneficiary of the IRA the entire year for which the distribution is calculated and the spouse beneficiary is greater than 10 years younger than the IRA owner
  • Uniform Lifetime Table: used by an IRA owner to calculate his/her annual RMD if he/she is not eligible to use the Joint and Last Survivor Table
  • Single Life Table: used by an IRA owner’s surviving spouse beneficiary or an eligible nonspouse beneficiary to determine the distribution period in order to calculate the beneficiary’s annual RMD from an inherited IRA


The Life Expectancy and Distribution Period Tables in the final regulation will be used to determine RMDs for years beginning on or after January 1, 2022. As a reminder, an IRA owner who attains age 72 in 2021 has a required beginning date of April 1, 2022, but his/her first distribution calendar year is 2021; therefore, the divisor used to calculate his/her 2021 RMD will be taken from the current Joint and Last Survivor Table or from the Uniform Lifetime Table, whichever applies. The applicable updated table, however, would be used to determine the IRA owner’s RMD for calendar years 2022 and after.

For an opportunity to learn more about IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts including Health Savings Accounts and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, consider the Wolters Kluwer IRA Library or our on-demand video training offered on a variety of topics. Go here to learn more about training opportunities available to you, or you can call us at 1-800-552-9408.

Randy Heidmann
Senior Specialized Consultant, Tax Advantaged Accounts, Compliance Center of Excellence
With more than 40 years of industry experience, Randy Heidmann has helped hundreds of financial organizations create, implement and maintain their tax-advantaged accounts programs.