The Wall Street Journal

Taxes are a pain; we can probably all agree on that. But one 70-year-old nearly missed a key retirement tax deadline because he didn’t even know it was coming up. It turns out that once you turn 70 and a half, the IRS requires you to withdraw a minimum amount from certain retirement accounts and pay income taxes on it. Here are some things he wishes he’d known earlier.

Changing accounts

Even if you’re still working, the IRS requires you to make minimum withdrawals on your IRA accounts once you reach a certain age (there’s a worksheet you can do to figure out what your withdrawal is). Once you make these withdrawals, you have to pay taxes on the income. One way to avoid these withdrawals and to keep depositing money (without paying taxes on it) is to roll over your IRA account into your 401(k) if your employer allows you to do it.

Another way to get around this problem, according to financial experts, is to decrease the amount you pay into IRA accounts and increase the amount you pay into taxable or health savings accounts. Depending on the account, you may pay taxes at a lower rate than you would with your IRA minimum withdrawals, even though you have to pay the taxes up front.

Give what you can

Financial experts also advise that, if possible and if you’re already in the habit of doing so, you should donate your minimum withdrawal amount to a charity of your choice— this will ensure you don’t pay taxes on that money. If you’re going to donate money anyway, you might as well avoid paying taxes on it.

If you can get by without the minimum amount the IRS would otherwise force you to withdraw, you can also start a 529 plan to pay for the education of your child or grandchild. Eventually, your contribution will grow, tax-free, and help someone you love.