How to Handle Required Withdrawals From Retirement Accounts

In this month’s Ask Encore: Some helpful tips on tapping retirement accounts, as holders must eventually do.Illustration: Martin Tognola

Is there a recommended strategy for taking required withdrawals from retirement savings in this horrible market? I’m a buy-and-hold investor; normally, I would just hunker down, not look at my balances, and ride out this storm. Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service makes me sell stocks at the worst time. Any recommendations for this unprofitable task?

These questions allow me to tackle several issues involving retirement accounts and required minimum distributions, or RMDs. These withdrawals, of course, are part of the bargain we strike with the government when we open an IRA or similar account: We get decades (if we plan wisely) of tax-deferred growth, but we must start tapping these savings—and paying taxes on the withdrawals—when we enter our 70s.

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