Act Now or Miss Out: Critical Retirement Deadlines You Can’t Ignore

As the calendar year draws to a close, financial professionals emphasize the importance of attentive management of retirement plans. A timely assessment of one’s retirement strategy is crucial for ensuring that savings grow adequately and that individuals receive the maximum tax advantages. 

With several critical deadlines on the horizon, those gearing up for retirement should be particularly vigilant to make the most of their contributions and distributions before the year’s end.

401(k) plans

For employees contributing to 401(k) plans, there’s a significant opportunity to augment retirement savings, especially for those aged 50 or older. The 2024 401(k) contribution limit is $22,500, with an additional catch-up contribution of $7,500 for those 50 and older, allowing for a maximum deposit of $30,000. 

To count toward the current tax year, these contributions must be completed by December 31. This distinction is crucial for tax planning and those looking to reduce their taxable income for the year.


Turning to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), the contribution deadline extends to April 15 of the subsequent year. It is important to note that the contribution limit stands firm at $6,500 annually, except for individuals aged 50 and above, who may contribute up to $7,500.


The rules around Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) are essential for retirees over 72. These RMDs apply to most retirement accounts, excluding Roth IRAs, and must be taken by December 31. Those taking RMDs for the first time may opt to delay until April 1 of the year following their 72nd birthday. Still, they should be aware that this can result in taking two distributions in the same year, possibly resulting in a higher tax obligation due to an increased taxable income.

Inherited IRAs or 401(k)s from a non-spouse

In the case of inherited IRAs or 401(k)s from a non-spouse, beneficiaries must withdraw the entire balance within ten years if the original account holder passed away in 2020 or later. This rule necessitates careful planning to manage the potential tax impact of these withdrawals.

  • Solo 401(k) and SEP IRA

For small business owners and self-employed individuals, December 31 is the deadline for setting up a solo 401(k). However, contributions to the plan can be made until the tax filing deadline. Similarly, a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA must be established by the tax filing deadline, and contributions for the previous tax year can be made up to April 15 of the following year.


Contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) offer another avenue for tax savings and can be made until the tax-filing deadline. Contribution limits for 2024 will be $3,850 for individuals and $7,750 for families, plus a $1,000 catch-up contribution for those over 55.

Charitable Donations

Another strategy for the charitably inclined aged 70½ and over involves making qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from an IRA. These donations can satisfy RMD requirements and are not included in taxable income, offering a potential tax benefit.

Roth IRA Conversion

For those considering converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, the window for this decision closes on December 31. Although this conversion triggers a tax on the converted amount, it offers the benefit of tax-free growth, a prospect that can be especially valuable in the long term.

As these deadlines draw near, retirees and individuals planning for retirement are encouraged to consult with financial advisors to ensure they fully benefit from these year-end opportunities. Proactive planning and action can make a significant difference in the health of one’s retirement savings and future financial security.