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RMDs were waived through the coronavirus stimulus, but I already claimed mine. Can I get the money back?

You can return the money in some circumstances

Some Americans may have already taken this year’s required minimum distributions, though the government recently waived that rule.


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The government waived required minimum distributions from retirement accounts this year as part of its $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, but some Americans already withdrew that money. They might be able to redeposit it, but there are stipulations.

Beginning at age 72, retirees who have not yet withdrawn from most retirement plans must take a specific amount of money out of their accounts, known as a “required minimum distribution.” Failing to do so results in a penalty fee of 50% of the required amount, which is calculated based on age, life expectancy and account balance.

But that changed — at least for 2020 — with the passage of the CARES Act in March. It was passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic to provide financial relief to Americans and U.S. businesses, retirees don’t have to make these distributions. People who turned 70½ years old by December 2019 are also eligible for the waiver, because that was the age for the rule before the Secure Act passed in December.

See: This is how the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus affects retirees — and those who one day hope to retire

The good news: They’re able to keep the money in these accounts so that their portfolios can rebound after extreme market volatility these last few weeks. This will benefit investors who have these accounts but don’t need to draw down their assets right away.

The bad news: Some individuals already took their RMD this year, and not everyone can return that money to their portfolios.

Investors can redeposit the distribution to their plans if they’ve made the withdrawal within 60 days. Those who made the distribution before then — so sometime in January — would not be eligible, said Eric Reich, president of Reich Asset Management. The transaction, known as a 60-day rollover, can only be done once in a 365-day period.

Also see: I’m retired and claim Social Security — do I still get the $1,200 stimulus check?

Putting the money back into the account is relatively simple, said Dave Du Val, chief customer advocacy officer at TaxAudit. Investors should contact the financial institution that houses their account, which will send them paperwork to sign and return.

The waived RMD is a suspension, not a postponement, which means retirees do not have to worry about having to take two distributions next year to make up for this year’s missed transaction, Du Val said. Required minimum distributions for inherited accounts are also waived, though nonspousal beneficiaries are not allowed a 60-day rollover.

“RMDs are really simple to take and undo if you’re allowed to,” Du Val said.

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