One of those wonderful tax benefits that a qualified retirement plan and IRA provide is the tax deferral of contributions and earnings. But nothing lasts forever including the payment of benefits (and the taxes thereon). So the tax laws require RBDs and RMDs. That’s tax talk for “required beginning date” and “required minimum distribution” respectively.
The law requires that certain minimum benefits from a qualified retirement plan and IRA (the RMD) must commence no later than the participant’s RBD which generally speaking means the April 1 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which he or she reaches age 70 ½. Got it? And except, of course, when it isn’t required.
Obviously, it’s a complicated set of rules, and taxpayers should always consult with a qualified tax adviser. Failure to meet the requirements can be expensive: an excess accumulation tax of 50% of the required distribution that the participant didn’t take.
Here is a link to an excellent explanation of RBDs and RMDs by McKay Hochman.