What Are the Rules for Withdrawals From IRAs at Age 70.5?

Most people must begin withdrawals from their Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, when they are 70.5 years old, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, individuals who own Roth IRAs are not required to make withdrawals; withdrawals are only required after the Roth IRA owner dies.

IRA owners have the option to withdraw more than the minimum distribution from their IRAs if desired, notes the IRS. However, all withdrawals must be included in the owner's taxable income unless any part of it was previously untaxed. Some distributions, including qualified Roth account distributions, may be tax free. Investors should check the terms of their IRAs to determine tax liability or lack thereof.

Account owners who fail to withdraw the required minimum distributions from their accounts face penalties, reports the IRS. All 401(k), 403(b) and 457(b) plans require minimum distributions. Profit-sharing plans, Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees IRAs, Simplified Employee Pension Plans and Salary Reduction Simplified Employee Pension Plans also require that owners 70.5 years and older begin withdrawals. Should the owner of the account die before the withdrawals begin, the beneficiary of the account is responsible for withdrawing the money within 5 years of the death of the account owner. Beneficiaries can opt to have the money paid to them over their lifetime if they start withdrawals within 1 year of the death of the account owner.