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Personal Planner

IRA Charitable Rollover

IRA Charitable Rollover

The IRA charitable rollover was created in 2006 and made permanent by Congress in 2015. Another name for an IRA charitable rollover is a qualified charitable distribution. This giving plan is available for IRA owners who are over age 70½. It is a direct transfer from an IRA to a public charity. Prior to the IRA charitable rollover, some individuals would take withdrawals from their IRAs, report the distribution as taxable income, make a cash gift to charity, obtain the required receipts for charitable gifts over $250 and take a deduction on their tax returns.

Not only was this process rather cumbersome, it also resulted in increased adjusted gross income. With higher income, you may pay more income tax on Social Security or pay a higher Medicare Part B premium. That's why an IRA charitable rollover may be a great option.

The IRA charitable rollover is very simple. An IRA owner who has reached the age of 70½ may transfer up to $105,000 per year. The transfer is made directly from the IRA to a qualified public charity. The IRA rollover is not taxable on your income tax return, so there is no need for a tax deduction. It is a simple and effective way to make a charitable gift.

Mary Makes a Convenient Gift

Mary Smith is a retired teacher who recently turned 73. She regularly volunteers for her favorite charity and makes a gift each year of $2,000. Last year, Mary withdrew $2,000 from her IRA, reported that amount in her taxable income and then wrote a check to charity. Because the gift was over $250, the charity sent Mary a receipt. She deducted the $2,000 charitable gift on her tax return.

Mary heard from a friend about the IRA rollover option. She called the development director at the charity and asked about using an IRA rollover to make her annual gift. Mary would simply need to contact her IRA custodian and have the IRA gift transferred to her favorite charity.

Mary contacted the large financial company that managed her IRA and filled out a distribution form. She asked that the financial company make a "qualified charitable distribution" of $2,000 to her favorite charity. The financial company then transferred the $2,000 directly to her favorite charity. The balance of her required minimum distribution for that year was distributed to Mary. She reported her IRA distribution on her tax return, but did not pay tax on the $2,000 gift to charity.

Mary loved the simplicity of the IRA charitable rollover. The $2,000 gift to charity was not taxed on her income tax return and she did not have to itemize to take the deduction. The simplicity and convenience of this gift was a wonderful benefit for Mary.

Judy Takes the Standard Deduction

Judy is a retired nurse and a volunteer for her favorite charity. During her working years, Judy had sufficient income and lived a moderate lifestyle. She saved regularly and contributed to her IRA. With good investments and tax-free growth, Judy's retirement plan has increased to over $435,000.

Judy is age 78, owns her home and has more income than she needs. Each year she makes a gift of $1,000 to charity. Because she does not report home mortgage interest or have enough other deductions to itemize, Judy takes the standard deduction. But she has heard about the IRA charitable rollover and wonders if that will be a good option. She asked her best friend, "Do you think that I should give the $1,000 from my IRA?"

Each year Judy withdraws the $1,000 from her IRA. It increases her income by $1,000. Because she gives the $1,000 to charity and takes the standard deduction, Judy does not reduce her income taxes with her charitable gift. The $1,000 IRA withdrawal increases her income, but Judy does not benefit from a charitable deduction.

A better plan is for Judy to give $1,000 directly from her IRA to charity. The IRA charitable rollover reduces her income by $1,000 and saves taxes.

Judy was pleased to learn that she could roll over $1,000 from her IRA to her favorite charity. Best of all, Judy was able to make the gift and reduce her current taxes. Judy spoke with her best friend and noted, "An IRA charitable rollover is a great plan. I helped those in need through my favorite charity and also lowered my taxes!"

Bruce is a Very Generous Donor

Bruce retired several years ago, but remained active during his retirement years. Recently, Bruce started volunteering with a local charity. He devotes several hours a week to his volunteer work and receives great satisfaction through helping others.

Since Bruce lives moderately and has good income from his retirement plan and investments, he is a generous donor. In fact, Bruce donates 60% of his income each year and lives on the balance. He feels that this is an opportunity for him to "give back" to society for the good life he has been able to lead. But Bruce would like to do more. Is there a way for Bruce to help even more?

The charity has a special project underway. Bruce understands the importance of this charitable project and would like to make an additional gift of $20,000. He checked with his CPA, who explained that he qualifies for a tax-free IRA charitable rollover. As a result, Bruce was able to contact his IRA custodian and have a gift of $20,000 sent to the charity. The charity honored Bruce for his generous gift. Bruce is happy with his rollover gift. It was not included in his taxable income and he was able to deduct his regular charitable gifts.

Bruce noted, "I am very pleased with my IRA gift. Because it was not included in my income, I am able to deduct my regular gifts and still help with an added gift of $20,000!"

Claire Simplifies Her Taxes

Claire is a retired investment advisor. Over the years, she watched her IRA blossom and grow into the largest asset in her estate. Based on her age of 78 and the increased IRA value, her required distribution this year is nearly $105,000!

Claire is a frequent volunteer for her favorite charity and wants to make a major gift to a special project. In November, she decided that she had sufficient other income and did not actually need the IRA distribution for this year. With the growth of her IRA, it was logical to make the charitable gift from her IRA. But how can this work? Is this a good tax planning strategy?

Claire contacted her CPA Susan to discuss the best way to make her major gift. Susan explained to Claire the benefits of making a tax-free IRA charitable rollover. By not taking the $105,000 into her income, Claire will benefit in several ways. Her income will be lower and she will not have other tax benefits phased out. She will have a reduced income level and pay a lower Medicare Part B premium.

Claire responded, "I don't understand all of that tax talk, but it does make sense that with $105,000 less in taxable income, my return will be easier to complete. Plus, there are those other savings that you mentioned. This sounds like a great idea!"

The next day, Claire contacted her IRA custodian and had the full $105,000 IRA distribution sent to her favorite charity. She and her CPA Susan were both delighted. Claire made a wonderful gift and her tax situation was simplified.

How to Give From an IRA

The IRA rollover requires a payment by your IRA custodian to a qualified public charity. IRA custodians are generally familiar with the IRA charitable rollover and may use the IRS term, the "qualified charitable distribution."

Your first step is to contact the IRA custodian. Most IRA custodians have a standard IRA distribution form. Some IRA custodians have added the IRA charitable rollover as an option to this form. As the IRA owner, you will need to sign the application and indicate the amount of the gift and the correct legal name, city and state of the public charity.

After your IRA custodian has received the form and processed the transfer, it will pay the specified amount to the public charity. This gift can be made for a specific purpose. For example, the gift could be to a specific relief fund, to a scholarship fund or to another "field of interest fund" with a charity. If you have a specific goal for your IRA charitable gift, you will want to contact the charity to confirm the gift will be used for that purpose.

Published November 3, 2023

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