The information we’re providing here is current but subject to change as we receive additional guidance and information.
The changes to the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules described here apply to all TSP participants who are subject to RMDs. You do not have to certify that meet the criteria described in the CARES Act or elsewhere on our website.
Temporary changes to required minimum distributions
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a steep and sudden decline in the stock markets and put a severe strain on many household budgets. As authorized by the CARES Act, we made the following temporary changes related to required minimum distributions (RMDs) to give your account balance time to recover:
- You do not need to make any withdrawals from your TSP account in 2020 to satisfy an RMD, regardless of your age or employment status.
- We will not send any automatic RMD payments for 2020. We will continue to send installment payments you elected to receive even if you started them solely to receive your RMD amount. To stop them, log in to My Account and select Withdrawals and Changes to Installment Payments.
- If you make a withdrawal, we will withhold for federal taxes at the rate appropriate for the type of withdrawal you make, without regard to RMD rules that would otherwise apply. You can transfer or roll over to an IRA or eligible employer plan any otherwise eligible withdrawals you make. (See the TSP tax notice Important Tax Information About Payments From Your TSP Account for more information about eligible rollover distributions.)
Questions and answers about RMD changes
Q: Will my installment payments get stopped automatically? If they don’t and I want to stop them, how do I do that?
Answer: The temporary waiver of RMDs does not stop installment payments you have elected to take, even if you only chose to take them to meet your RMD. If you want to stop receiving payments, you must log in to My Account on tsp.gov and select Withdrawals and Changes to Installment Payments.
Q. I chose to receive installment payments based on life expectancy so that I could withdraw exactly my RMD amount each year. With the waiver of 2020 RMDs, can I stop these payments temporarily and then restart them next year?
Answer: Yes. The FRTIB is permanently changing the rule that prevents you from starting installment payments based on life expectancy if you have previously received installment payments. Beginning in January 2021, all TSP participants who are eligible for installment payments may elect to receive installment payments based on life expectancy whether or not they previously started and then stopped installment payments. This means that if you are currently receiving life-expectancy-based installment payments, you may now stop them, knowing that you will be able to restart them next year.
Q. Are 2020 RMDs just being postponed or are they canceled? Will I have to receive two RMDs in 2021?
Answer: RMDs are waived for 2020, which means they are effectively canceled. You do not have to receive two RMDs in 2021. This is true even if 2020 is your first RMD year and, therefore, not required until April 1, 2021. If 2020 is your first RMD year, the first RMD you have to take will be for your second RMD year (2021) and is due December 31, 2021.
Q: If I took a withdrawal less than 60 days ago, will I be able to use the TSP-60 form to roll over that distribution back into TSP using a personal check, even if it was a required minimum distribution?
Answer: Yes, you can use the TSP-60 form to roll over that distribution back into the TSP using a personal check.
Q: What if I’ve already received a required minimum distribution in 2020 and it was more than 60 days ago? Can the TSP extend the 60-day deadline for rollovers?
Answer: If you received an RMD (or an installment payment that included an RMD) between January 1 and May 15, then you were allowed to roll those amounts over up until August 31, 2020. If you missed that deadline and were affected by COVID-19, see Withdrawals for participants affected by COVID-19, for rollover options.
Q: What does the TSP intend to do with the automatic RMD payments that were scheduled to occur either before the end of December 2020 (for separated participants who reached the age of 70½ before the end of 2019) or before the end of March 2021 (for participants whose first RMD year is 2020)?
Answer: We will not be making those payments, which are normally sent automatically before the deadline.