Don't forget to take your Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) if you are over 70 ½ or have an inherited IRA. The penalty for missed RMD's is 50% of the amount that should have been withdrawn. Certainly one of the stiffest penalties in the IRS' arsenal!
Normally the deadline for RMDs is 12/31 for the given year however the 31st of December falls on a Saturday this year which means that the practical deadline is 12/30. Often when an IRS deadline falls on a weekend, the effective deadline is pushed to the following business day. For example, the IRA recharacterization deadline is October 15th of the year following the year of contribution/conversion however this year it was effective for October 17th because the 15th was a Saturday. For RMDs, this is a different issue because the following business day will be in 2012! To avoid any complications, be sure to take your RMD on or before 12/30/2011.
This also applies to other distributions such as 72(t) aka Series of Substantially Equal Periodic Payments (SOSEPP). If the distribution is on the last date of the month/year, and defaults to the next business day, your SOSEPP could be in violation of the modification rules resulting in the 10% early distribution penalty being applied retroactively to the beginning of the SOSEPP. Be sure to contact your custodian if this applies to you to take steps to remain in compliance with these rules.
If you have multiple IRAs and/or 401k, 403b, etc., the RMD rules get a bit complicated. Go to http://bit.ly/R_M_D for general guidelines on RMDs. For more information on how to properly calculate your RMD and to understand the RMD account aggregation rules, contact me directly; don't rely on your custodian to do it for you, always verify on your own.
If you do not need your RMD and you are charitably inclined, you may qualify to transfer up to $100,000 from your IRA to a qualified charity to satisfy your RMD under the Qualified Charitable Distribution rules that will expire at the end of this year. This allows you to transfer the funds directly to the charity without realizing the income while satisfying the RMD. While there is no charitable tax deduction, not having to realize the income has a greater impact than realizing the income and then getting a deduction.