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There are deadlines by which RMDs must be taken; otherwise, the account owner is subject to penalties in addition to taxes—and the penalties are pretty stiff. So this is not something you want to mess around with. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are something that retirees and those who plan to retire need to learn about. Those who don’t could be in for some pretty unpleasant—and expensive—surprises.

Related: What Americans get wrong about retirement and what they fear about it

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