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Living in retirement

IRA rules for RMDs & other withdrawals

While you can take money from your IRA anytime, you may bypass penalties and extra taxes if you don't do it too early.
4 minute read

Guidelines for withdrawals

Withdrawals before age 59½

Withdrawals of Roth IRA contributions are always both tax-free and penalty-free. But if you're under age 59½ and your withdrawal dips into your earnings—in other words, if you withdraw more than you've contributed in total—you could be subject to both taxes and penalties on the earnings portion of the withdrawal.

Withdrawals of your traditional IRA contributions before age 59½ will result in a 10% federal penalty tax plus regular income tax on the taxable amount of your withdrawal—generally the entire amount—unless you qualify for an exception.

See if you qualify for an exception

Withdrawals between ages 59½ & 72 (age 70½ if you attained age 70½ before 2020)

Restrictions relax at age 59½, and you can withdraw from a Roth or traditional IRA penalty-free for the most part.

In addition, with a Roth IRA, you'll pay no taxes on withdrawals, provided your account has been open for at least 5 years.*

With a traditional IRA, you'll owe taxes on the withdrawals of all earnings and any contributions you originally deducted from your taxes.

But remember: Turning 59½ doesn't mean you have to start withdrawing your money.

Withdrawals at age 72 (age 70½ if you attained age 70½ before 2020) & older

If you own a Roth IRA, there's no mandatory withdrawal at any age.

But if you own a traditional IRA, you must take your first required minimum distribution (RMD) by April 1 of the year following the year you reach age 72 (age 70½ if you attained age 70½ before 2020). For each subsequent year, you must take your RMD by December 31. The RMD amount is based on your life expectancy and the prior year-end balance of your retirement account.

Learn about Vanguard's free RMD Service

SELF-EMPLOYED OR OWN A SMALL BUSINESS?

You may be able to save even more with a SEP-IRA or SIMPLE IRA.

Learn more about our small-business retirement plans

Withdrawals from an inherited IRA

In general, nonspouse beneficiaries that inherit an IRA from someone that passed away in 2020 or later may be required to withdraw the entire account balance within 10 years. Spousal beneficiaries and certain eligible nonspouse beneficiaries may be permitted to take RMDs over their life expectancy.

You won't pay taxes on withdrawals from an inherited Roth IRA as long as the original account owner held the IRA for at least 5 years.

But you will pay taxes on withdrawals from an inherited traditional IRA.

Learn more about inherited IRAs

Learn more about RMD rules for inherited IRAs

A word about loans from your IRA

Neither Roth nor traditional IRAs allow you to take loans, but you can access money from an IRA for a 60-day period through what's termed a "tax-free rollover" as long as you put the money back into the same or a different IRA within 60 days. You're limited to only one such "rollover" within a 12-month period, regardless of the number of IRAs you own.

Learn more about "tax-free rollovers"

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*The 5-year holding period for Roth IRAs starts on the earlier of: (1) the date you first contributed directly to the IRA, (2) the date you rolled over a Roth 401(k) or Roth 403(b) to the Roth IRA, or (3) the date you converted a traditional IRA to the Roth IRA. If you're under age 59½ and you have one Roth IRA that holds proceeds from multiple conversions, you're required to keep track of the 5-year holding period for each conversion separately.

You may wish to consult a tax advisor about your situation.

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