Give Your Giving a Tax-Friendly Spin Using Qualified Charitable Donations
November 27, 2018 - Until 2018, you could often achieve a tax break by “itemizing,” or including your charitable contributions with other itemized deductions such as mortgage interest, state taxes, medical expenses, etc. This charitable deduction has long been near and dear to the hearts of many Americans.
However, if you’re age 70½ or older and you own a traditional IRA account, you may still be able to make a tax-advantaged donation by making a Qualified Charitable Donation (QCD).
How can a QCD help? It’s related to how traditional IRA distributions work. Once you reach age 70½, you must start taking an annual Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) out of your traditional IRA accounts. If you do not, the penalties are severe. You’ll be taxed 50% on the amounts you were supposed to withdraw, but didn’t. (Note: None of this applies to Roth IRAs.)
With rare exception, an RMD is fully taxable as ordinary income. But, if you don't need all or part of the taxable RMD, you can do a QCD instead by transferring funds out of your IRA(s) directly to your charities of choice. A QCD distribution reduces your taxable RMD dollar for dollar, which effectively means you are back to reducing your taxable IRA income by making charitable donations. If you have yet to take your 2018 RMD, you can implement this strategy any time before year-end. If you have already taken your full taxable RMD this year, or you've already made all of your 2018 charitable contributions, you can apply this same strategy in 2019 or beyond.
What if you’re nowhere near age 70½? Next time, we’ll review the Donor Advised Fund, which is another strategy any taxpayer can use to deduct charitable contributions.
Written by John A. Frisch, CPA/PFS, CFP, AIF, PPC