Kicking the bucket
A classic G. George Ostrom column from April 1999
The United States government now has an official schedule which tells people when they should kick the bucket. I accidentally found out about this last Tuesday while on a personal business visit to the bank. It came as a mixed blessing and jolt to discover the IRS, other federal bureaucrats and politicians have decided I will go to the big newsroom in the sky during March 2014; however, there seems to be a way for me to delay this a little bit.
About 10 years ago Iris and I decided to try putting some money each year into an IRA, because people can deduct such savings when computing their annual income tax. IRA stands for “Indentured Rat-hole Assets.” You have to put them in a “qualifying institution.” For political reasons they do not allow anyone to keep IRAs in fruit jars, old socks or under the mattress.
I was shocked to recently learn you have to start drawing out the money when you reach 71-and-half years of age. The IRS buzzards are eagerly circling, because you have to pay taxes on the money they force you to draw out … even if you are still working full time and paying taxes on current earnings.
Naturally, a guy like me, planning to retire at 80, does not want to be cashing in an IRA now … when I’m still so young. I was originally led to believe those things were designed for old folks; however, the Feds are obviously not open to any discussion based on misconceived ideas.
So there I was in the bank last Tuesday. Asked the lady in charge of my Rat-hole money how much I had to start drawing out. That’s when the time of my departure from earth was revealed. She got out a table of government statistics, looked up numbers, checked the amount in my IRA, worked her calculator, then said, “You have to draw out X dollars per year.”
“How did you get that figure?”
“Well George, this schedule says you have to draw out the amount in order to use up all your IRA money in exactly 15.3 years.
There it was! The United States Government had just laid it right out in cold blood … told me I would draw the last dime of my IRA in March of 2014. It is certainly logical to assume the government also expects me to draw my last breath at that time, or it wouldn’t be forcing me to use up all the money by then.
I was understandably disturbed, and asked the banker lady why the government wanted me to kick the bucket at that particular time. She said, “Oh! That doesn’t mean you have to die right then. That 15.3 years is just an average life expectancy figure based on general actuary statistics from the overall population.”
Bankers like to put a nice positive spin on everything.
She went on to explain I didn’t have to begin drawing out money right now, but did have to start sometime within one year of last January 24, when I had reached 70 and one-half years of age.
That’s how I figured out that by waiting until the last legal minute, 11:59 p.m. next January 23rd, I could keep the IRA and me going … until 2015. Life is good.
*George will turn 92 on July 24th of this year.