Your first required distribution from an IRA or retirement plan is for the year you reach age 72. However, you have some flexibility as to when you actually have to take this first-year distribution. You can take it during the year you reach age 72, or you can delay it until April 1 of the following year.
The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act passed in late 2019 raised the RMD age from 70½ to 72, effective January 1, 2020. Anyone who turns 72 before July 1, 2021, (and therefore reached age 70½ before 2020), will need to take an RMD by December 31, 2021.
Since this first distribution generally must be taken no later than April 1 following the year you reach age 72, this April 1 date is known as your required beginning date. Required distributions for subsequent years must be taken no later than December 31 of each calendar year until you die or your balance is reduced to zero. This means that if you opt to delay your first distribution until April 1 of the following year, you will be required to take two distributions during that year — your first year's required distribution and your second year's required distribution.
You have a traditional IRA and you will reach age 72 on or after July 1, 2021. You can take your first RMD during 2021, or you can delay it until April 1, 2022. If you choose to delay your first distribution until 2022, you will have to take two required distributions during 2022 — one for 2021 and one for 2022. This is because your required distribution for 2022 cannot be delayed until the following year.
There is one situation in which your required beginning date can be later than described above. If you continue working past age 72 and are still participating in your employer's retirement plan, your required beginning date under the plan of your current employer can be as late as April 1 following the calendar year in which you retire (if the retirement plan allows this and you own 5% or less of the company). Again, subsequent distributions must be taken no later than December 31 of each calendar year.
You own more than 5% of your employer's company and you are still working at the company. You will reach age 72 on or after July 1, 2021, so you must take your first RMD from your current employer's plan by April 1, 2022 — even if you're still working for the company at that time.
You participate in two plans — one with your current employer and one with your former employer. You own less than 5% of each company. You will reach age 72 on December 2, 2021, but you'll keep working until you turn 74 on December 2, 2023. You can delay your first RMD from your current employer's plan until April 1, 2024 — the April 1 following the calendar year in which you retire. However, you must take your first distribution (for 2021) from your former employer's plan no later than April 1, 2022 — the April 1 after reaching age 72.