How to Calculate the Minimum Monthly Withdrawal From an IRA

by Michael Keenan

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires you to start taking minimum distributions from your tax-deferred IRAs, such as traditional IRAs, when you turn 70 1/2. The IRS calculates the amount you must withdraw on an annual basis rather than a monthly basis. If you prefer to take monthly distributions, you can calculate the minimum monthly withdrawal from your IRA from the annual amount. Making sure that you take out the required amount helps you avoid the 50 percent tax penalty imposed when you fail to withdraw enough.

1. Figure your age at the end of the year for which you want to calculate your minimum monthly IRA withdrawal. If your spouse is 10 years younger than you, also figure your spouse's age.

2. Look up your life expectancy on the appropriate table in IRS Publication 590's appendix. For IRAs you inherited, use the Single Life Expectancy Table. For an IRA for which your spouse is the sole beneficiary and your spouse is at least a decade younger than you, use the Joint and Last Survivor Table. If neither of these options applies in your case, use the Uniform Lifetime Table. For both the Single Life Expectancy Table and the Uniform Life Expectancy Table, find your age on the left and your life expectancy next to it.

3. Divide your IRA value by your life expectancy. When performing this calculation, use your IRA value at the end of the prior year to find your minimum annual withdrawal from your IRA. For example, if your IRA was worth $90,000 at the end of the last year and your life expectancy equals 23.8 years, divide $90,000 by 23.8 to get $3,781.51.

4. Divide the annual minimum withdrawal by 12 to find the minimum monthly withdrawal. In this example, divide $3,781.51 by 12 to find the minimum monthly withdrawal from your IRA equals $315.13.


  • Roth IRAs do not require minimum distributions.

Items you will need

  • IRS Publication 590

About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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