Q. My wife just reminded me I will be turning 70 1/2 later this year, which means I will be required to withdraw from my IRA. For tax planning purposes, is there an easy way to figure out the actual amount I will be required to withdraw?
A. Fortunately IRS Pub. 590 has all the information you need; and if you put your mouse over the link I provided, it will take you right there. It's a rather lengthy publication, but has loads of useful information. Note that for married persons with spouses 10 years or more younger, there are separate tables. Please be certain to choose the right table for your situation
Basically you find your age, read the factor on the right and divide the 12/31/xx balance of your IRA by the factor. As an example: Your age is 70 1/2 and the 12/31/11 balance of your IRA is $82,000. The factor is 17. Divide $82,000 by 17 and the answer is $4,823.53. That would be your minimum required distribution. Of course you can take more. The good news is banks and brokerage houses acting as the trustee of your IRA account will more than likely send you a notice of required distribution well in advance of the deadline.
Whatever you do, don't forget. The penalty for non-withdrawal is 50%!!!