- The Minimum Distribution Method is calculated the same way as required minimum distributions when account owners reach their required beginning distribution date. This method will generally produce the lowest annual 72(t) payments since it is based on the longest life expectancy.
- The Fixed Amortization Method consists of an account balance amortized over your life expectancy. Once an annual distribution amount is calculated under this fixed method, the same dollar amount must be distributed in subsequent years. This produces higher payments than the Minimum Distribution Method and gives some security in that the payments are fixed. But the calculation is complicated and there is the risk that the payments will not keep pace with inflation.
- The Fixed Annuitization Method consists of an account balance, an annuity factor, and an annual payment. Once an annual distribution amount is calculated under this fixed method, the same dollar amount must be distributed under this method in subsequent years. This method may at times provide the largest payments, depending on the size of the account and interest rates used. And like amortization method, the payments are fixed.
Is taking advantage of Rule 72(t) a good idea? It could be. After all, it gets you out of paying the 10% penalty. But remember: You’ll still have to pay ordinary income taxes on the distributions, and money you withdrawal from your IRA means that much less for your future needs. And in case you don’t stay with the plan, or modify the payments in any way, you will no longer qualify for the exemption from the 10% penalty. Furthermore, the 10% penalty will be reinstated retroactively, to all prior years.
So before you take advantage of Rule 72(t), I suggest you get a second or even third opinion before signing on the dotted line. Best wishes, George