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Don’t Forget About the Benefits of a Qualified Charitable Distribution for 2022

“I have an 84-year-old client with a multi-million dollar IRA.  As you can well image, his required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year is quite large. Do you have any suggestions on how he might reduce the tax impact of such a large RMD?”

ERISA consultants at the Retirement Learning Center (RLC) Resource Desk regularly receive calls from financial advisors on a broad array of technical topics related to IRAs, qualified retirement plans and other types of retirement savings and income plans, including nonqualified plans, stock options, and Social Security and Medicare.  We bring Case of the Week to you to highlight the most relevant topics affecting your business.

A recent call with a financial advisor from Illinois is representative of a common inquiry related to charitable giving.

Highlights of the Discussion

  • Yes, the first idea that comes to mind is making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) by December 31, 2022. A QCD is any otherwise taxable distribution (up to $100,000 per year) that an “eligible IRA owner or beneficiary” directly transfers to a “qualifying charitable organization.”(The IRA owner cannot have received the amount.) QCDs were a temporary provision in the Pension Protection Act of 2006. After years of provisional annual extensions, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 reinstated and made permanent QCDs for 2015 and beyond.
  • What are the benefits of making a QCD? Generally, IRA owners must include any distributions of pre-tax amounts from their IRAs in their taxable income for the year. A QCD
    • Is excludable from taxable income (up to $100,000),
    • May count towards the individual’s RMD for the year,
    • May lower taxable income enough for the person to avoid paying additional Medicare premiums and
    • Is a philanthropic way to support a favored charity.
  • Note that making a QCD does not entitle the individual to an additional itemized tax deduction for a charitable contribution.*
  • An eligible IRA owner or beneficiary for QCD purposes is a person who has actually attained age 70 ½ or older, and has assets in traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, or “inactiveSEP IRAs or savings incentive match plans for employees (SIMPLE) IRAs. Inactive means there are no ongoing employer contributions to the SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA. A SEP IRA or a SIMPLE IRA is treated as ongoing if the sponsoring employer makes an employer contribution for the plan year ending with or within the IRA owner’s taxable year in which the charitable contribution would be made (see IRS Notice 2007-7, Q&A 36).
  • Generally, qualifying charitable organizations include those described in 170(b)(1)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) (e.g., churches, educational organizations, hospitals and medical facilities, foundations, etc.) other than supporting organizations described in IRC § 509(a)(3) or donor advised funds that are described in IRC § 4966(d)(2). The IRS has a handy online tool Exempt Organization Select Check, which can help taxpayers identify organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
  • Where an individual has made nondeductible contributions to his or her traditional IRAs, a special rule treats amounts distributed to charities as coming first from taxable funds, instead of proportionately from taxable and nontaxable funds, as would be the case with regular distributions.
  • Be aware there are special IRS Form 1040 reporting steps that apply to QCDs.
  • Section IX of IRS Notice 2007-7 contains additional compliance details regarding QCDs. For example, QCDs are not subject to federal tax withholding because an IRA owner that requests such a distribution is deemed to have elected out of withholding under IRC § 3405(a)(2) (see IRS Notice 2007-7, Q&A 40 ).

Conclusion

Eligible IRA owners and beneficiaries age 70 ½ and over, including those with inactive SEP or SIMPLE IRAs, should be aware of the benefits of directing QCDs to their favorite charitable organizations.

* Apart from a QCD, IRA owners who take taxable IRA distributions and donate them to charitable organizations may be eligible to deduct such amounts on their tax returns for the year if they itemize deductions (Schedule A of Form 1040).  See IRS Tax Topic 506 and IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions for more information

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