Rollovers by Non-Spouse Beneficiaries

Learn about rollovers by non-spouse beneficiaries, as outlined in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (Subtitle VII, Explanation 9).

9. Rollovers by nonspouse beneficiaries (sec. 402 of the Code)

Present Law

Tax-free rollovers

Under present law, a distribution from a qualified retirement plan, a tax-sheltered annuity ("section 403(b) annuity"), an eligible deferred compensation plan of a State or local government employer (a "governmental section 457 plan"), or an individual retirement arrangement (an "IRA") generally is included in income for the year distributed. However, eligible rollover distributions may be rolled over tax free within 60 days to another plan, annuity, or IRA.175

In general, an eligible rollover distribution includes any distribution to the plan participant or IRA owner other than certain periodic distributions, minimum required distributions, and distributions made on account of hardship.176 Distributions to a participant from a qualified retirement plan, a tax-sheltered annuity, or a governmental section 457 plan generally can be rolled over to any of such plans or an IRA.177 Similarly, distributions from an IRA to the IRA owner generally are permitted to be rolled over into a qualified retirement plan, a tax-sheltered annuity, a governmental section 457 plan, or another IRA.

Similar rollovers are permitted in the case of a distribution to the surviving spouse of the plan participant or IRA owner, but not to other persons.

If an individual inherits an IRA from the individual's deceased spouse, the IRA may be treated as the IRA of the surviving spouse. This treatment does not apply to IRAs inherited from someone other than the deceased spouse. In such cases, the IRA is not treated as the IRA of the beneficiary. Thus, for example, the beneficiary may not make contributions to the IRA and cannot roll over any amounts out of the inherited IRA. Like the original IRA owner, no amount is generally included in income until distributions are made from the IRA. Distributions from the inherited IRA must be made under the rules that apply to distributions to beneficiaries, as described below.

Minimum distribution rules

Minimum distribution rules apply to tax-favored retirement arrangements. In the case of distributions prior to the death of the participant, distributions generally must begin by the April 1 of the calendar year following the later of the calendar year in which the participant (1) attains age 70½ or (2) retires.178 The minimum distribution rules also apply to distributions following the death of the participant. If minimum distributions have begun prior to the participant's death, the remaining interest generally must be distributed at least as rapidly as under the minimum distribution method being used prior to the date of death. If the participant dies before minimum distributions have begun, then either (1) the entire remaining interest must be distributed within five years of the death, or (2) distributions must begin within one year of the death over the life (or life expectancy) of the designated beneficiary. A beneficiary who is the surviving spouse of the participant is not required to begin distributions until the date the deceased participant would have attained age 70½. Alternatively, if the surviving spouse makes a rollover from the plan into a plan or IRA of his or her own, minimum distributions generally would not need to begin until the surviving spouse attains age 70½.

Explanation of Provision

The provision provides that benefits of a beneficiary other than a surviving spouse may be transferred directly to an IRA. The IRA is treated as an inherited IRA of the nonspouse beneficiary. Thus, for example, distributions from the inherited IRA are subject to the distribution rules applicable to beneficiaries. The provision applies to amounts payable to a beneficiary under a qualified retirement plan, governmental section 457 plan, or a tax-sheltered annuity. To the extent provided by the Secretary, the provision applies to benefits payable to a trust maintained for a designated beneficiary to the same extent it applies to the beneficiary.

Effective Date

The provision is effective for distributions after December 31, 2006.

In addition see IRS Notice 2007-7 Miscellaneous PPA Changes

175 The IRS has the authority to waive the 60-day requirement if failure to waive the requirement would be against equity or good conscience, including cases of casualty, disaster, or other events beyond the reasonable control of the individual. Sec. 402(c)(3)(B).

176 Sec. 402(c)(4). Certain other distributions also are not eligible rollover distributions, e.g., corrective distributions of elective deferrals in excess of the elective deferral limits and loans that are treated as deemed distributions.

177 Some restrictions or special rules may apply to certain distributions. For example, after-tax amounts distributed from a plan can be rolled over only to a plan of the same type or to an IRA.

178 In the case of five-percent owners and distributions from an IRA, distributions must begin by the April 1 of the calendar year following the year in which the individual attains age 70½.

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