IRAs

How to Ensure Your IRA Donation to Charity Is Tax-Free

Donating IRA money directly to a charity can satisfy your required minimum distribution and lower taxes, but IRA administrators vary on how to deliver your gift.

Question: I want to give my required minimum distribution from my IRA to several charities. What steps do I need to take so that I’m not taxed on the RMD? Is there a minimum amount I can transfer or a limit to the number of charities I can send the money to?

Answer:

People older than 70½ can transfer up to $100,000 per year from their traditional IRAs to charity, which can count as their required minimum distribution but is not taxable if they follow the rules for a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). (This doesn’t apply to a Roth IRA, which has tax-free withdrawals and no required distributions.) The gift stays out of your adjusted gross income only if you make a direct transfer from your IRA to the charity. It doesn’t count as a tax-free transfer if you withdraw the money first and then make a donation to the charity. Ask your IRA administrator what steps you need to take, because the procedures can vary from firm to firm.

Fidelity, for example, gives you several options. If you have check-writing privileges on your IRA, you can write a check directly from the IRA to the charity. Or use Fidelity’s QCD form to have money sent directly from your account. Fidelity recommends submitting the form no later than November 30 to allow enough time for processing.

If Fidelity sends the money, the check will be written out to the charity and include your name. Let the charity know to expect the donation, and provide your address so that it can send you an acknowledgement for your tax records. Another option is to have Fidelity make the check out to the charity and send it to your home address so that you can forward the donation to the charity yourself.

Vanguard requires that you either fill out a form or call to request the transfer for the donation to count as a QCD. (See Vanguard’s Required Minimum Distribution Service for more information.) Vanguard makes the check out to the charity and sends it to you to forward. Make the request with plenty of time to receive the check and get it in the hands of the charity.

Neither firm has a minimum amount you can transfer to each charity, and neither limits the number of charities you can support each year. You can’t, however, transfer more than $100,000 tax-free from your IRAs in any one year.

For more information about the benefits of making a qualified charitable distribution, see The Advantages of a Tax-Free Transfer From an IRA to Charity.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
11 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks and Funds to Buy
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

11 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks and Funds to Buy

Your bills come monthly. Why not your dividend checks? These are some of 2021's best monthly dividend stocks and funds for easier income planning.
June 16, 2021
You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge
Medicare

You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge

If you meet one of the seven qualifying life events, you have a good chance of getting a higher premium for Medicare Part B and Part D reduced.
June 16, 2021

Recommended

14 States That Won't Tax Your Pension
Tax Breaks

14 States That Won't Tax Your Pension

Some states have pension exclusions with limitations based on age and/or income. But these states don't tax pension income at all, no matter how old y…
June 19, 2021
What Fee-Only Financial Advice Really Means – and Why It Matters
Financial Planning

What Fee-Only Financial Advice Really Means – and Why It Matters

You’ve probably heard the term “fee-only financial adviser," but maybe you don’t quite grasp how that works or why it’s far better than the alternativ…
June 19, 2021
18 States With Scary Death Taxes
inheritance

18 States With Scary Death Taxes

Federal estate taxes are no longer a problem for all but the extremely wealthy, but several states have their own estate taxes and inheritance taxes t…
June 17, 2021
10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees
retirement

10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Retirees

When it comes to state and local taxes, retirees in these states are likely to pay more than retirees in other states.
June 17, 2021