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If you have one or more Individual Retirement Accounts, you can begin taking distributions without penalty after you turn 59. However, you are not legally required to take distributions until April 1st of the year after you turn age 70.

Calculating Your Minimum Distribution
The minimum amount you have to take is called your required minimum distribution (RMD). That amount will change each year as your IRA balances decrease and tax laws change. To calculate your RMD, you will need the Life Expectancy Table found in Internal Revenue Service Publication 590. Divide the balance in your IRA at the end of the year by your distribution period or life expectancy on the table.

Determining when to start receiving distributions depends on many factors, including other sources of retirement income available to you. Each situation is unique, but for most individuals entering retirement, it is best to withdraw from taxable accounts first and keep tax-deferred accounts growing.