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IRA Charitable Rollover

If you have a traditional IRA, you will need to start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) when you reach age 70.5. As traditional IRAs are tax-deferred, you will need to pay federal income tax on these distributions, but you can avoid those taxes if you donate your RMD directly to a qualified charity. Here’s what you need to know about IRA charitable rollovers.

What Is an IRA Charitable Rollover?

Traditional IRAs require you to make RMDs once you reach age 70.5. Because you did not pay federal income tax when you contributed the money to your account, you need to pay tax when you withdraw it. However, you can avoid the tax on that distribution by making a donation directly from your IRA to a charity. This is called an IRA charitable rollover, though you may sometimes see it referred to as a qualified charitable distribution (QCD).

This means that rather than paying tax on the money, it goes directly to a cause you believe in and want to support. This could also have the effect of reducing the impact of some tax credits and deductions such as Social Security and Medicare.

How Qualified Charitable Distributions Work

IRA Charitable Rollover

In order to make a QCD, you need to donate straight from your IRA to a qualified charity. The money never hits another of your personal accounts. A charity can qualify for a tax-deductible, qualified charitable distribution if it is a 501(c)(3) organization. Private foundations, donor-advised funds and supporting organizations do not qualify.

You need to be at least 70.5 to make a QCD, and the maximum annual exclusion for QCDs is $100,000. That means you can deduct up to $100,000 in charitable contributions from your income taxes. If you file a joint return, you and your spouse each have a $100,000 exclusion limit. You will need to pay income tax on any distributions above the exclusion limit. Note also that it is possible for a QCD to cover your entire RMD.

You can deduct this contribution from your taxes even if you take the standard deduction or don’t itemize deductions in your federal income tax return. State laws may vary so it’s a good idea to talk with a tax expert if you have specific questions.

You may also be able to make QCDs from SEP and SIMPLE IRAs.

Reporting a Qualified Charitable Distribution on Your Taxes

You will report a QCD the same way you would report a normal distribution from your IRA. Use Form 1099-R for the tax year that you made the distribution. So if you made the distribution in the 2018 tax year, report it on Form 1099-R with your 2018 tax return.

On your Form 1040, report the full amount of the QCD on the line for IRA distributions. If the amount covered your entire RMD, enter a zero on the line asking for the taxable amount.

If you made a QCD but it did not cover your entire your entire RMD, you will need to make an additional distribution. You will need to file Form 8606, Nondeductible IRAs, to report that you made this additional distribution.

Bottom Line

IRA Charitable Rollover

A qualified charitable distribution, also called an IRA charitable rollover, allows you to lower your tax bill if you contribute money directly from your traditional IRA to a charity. The charity needs to be a 501(c)(3) organization, and you can deduct up to a limit of $100,000. You have the same personal limit even if you file a joint return. You will need to use Form 1099-R to report this distribution. You will also need to file Form 8606 if your QCD doesn’t cover your entire RMD.

Tips for Saving on Your Taxes

  • A financial advisor can help you manage your RMDs and consider the tax impact of charitable donations. Don’t have a financial advisor? SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • A thorough and user-friendly tax filing service is also a big help. Two of the most popular services are H&R Block and TurboTax. Both offer a straightforward filing process with clear explanations of different forms and tax laws. Here’s a guide to help decide in H&R Block vs. TurboTax.

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Derek Silva, CEPF® Derek Silva is determined to make personal finance accessible to everyone. He writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, serving as a retirement and credit card expert. Derek is a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®). He has a degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has spent time as an English language teacher in the Portuguese autonomous region of the Azores. The message Derek hopes people take away from his writing is, “Don’t forget that money is just a tool to help you reach your goals and live the lifestyle you want.”
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