I attended a church picnic recently and was asked several tax questions about various topics, including the deadline to withdraw money from a traditional IRA.

You must take a distribution from a traditional IRA during the year you turn 70½. And you cannot make a contribution in the year you turn 70½ or any years thereafter.

The amount of the distribution depends on how much you have saved in the account and on your life expectancy, according to tables published by the IRS.

If you take your distribution at the year you turn 70 and you are single, the expectation is that you will live another 17 years, and your required minimum distribution (or RMD) is 1/17 of the IRA balance as of Dec. 31 of the previous year.

Should you turn 71 in the year of your first RMD you will take out a minimum of 1/16.3 of the previous year’s Dec. 31 balance. The amount decreases if you are married or if the beneficiaries of your estate include non-spousal distributions.

For more information, contact the holder of the IRA account.

Over the past few years, several clients of mine failed to receive their RMD on time and paid the penalty for late distribution. I recommend that you schedule the distribution for Dec. 1 or earlier to be sure this requirement will be completed before the end of the year.

You do not have to spend your distribution, only pay the required taxes, if applicable. You can reinvest the money into a non-IRA account or arrange for distribution to a qualified charity and not pay any taxes.

You have some choices to make with a traditional IRA, and it’s a good idea to do a little planning before starting the RMD. You should not begin withdrawing from a traditional IRA prior to turning 59½ without expecting to pay a penalty of 10 percent, unless you qualify for an exclusion.

Exclusions include withdrawing money to pay off an IRS levy, qualified retirement from a job before age 59½, paying medical bills, using up to $10,000 to buy your first house, certain education expenses, distribution from a deceased IRA account and certain other reasons.

People also have asked me why the IRS issues penalties and interest charges after a taxpayer has filed an extension. Please be aware that an extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your taxes.

Filing an extension is asking to file a return late, not to pay late. The best thing to do if you know you will owe is to pay something with the return.

The IRS often forgoes the penalties with a partial payment. The state of South Carolina requires a paper copy of a S.C. extension if you expect to owe. Without one, the state may charge a penalty for failure to file on time as well as interest and penalty on the balance due when the return is filed.

Virginia Moryadas is a tax preparation professional in Bluffton.