income tax

How to Report an IRA Charitable Distribution on Your Tax Return

Your IRA administrator will send you a 1099-R, noting your entire distribution; you need to report it to Uncle Sam -- and call out what portion was used as a qualified charitable distribution -- on your 1040.

Question: I am 75 years old and had to take $6,300 in required minimum distributions from my IRA in 2018. In October, I asked my IRA administrator to send $5,000 to a local education foundation (as a tax-free qualified charitable distribution) and to send me a check for the remaining $1,300. I received a 1099-R from my IRA administrator, and it shows total distributions of $6,300. How do I report the $5,000 I sent to the charity so that money isn’t included in my adjusted gross income?

Answer: A lot of people have that question at this time of year. When you receive your 1099-R, your IRA administrator just reports the amount of money that was distributed from your IRA and doesn’t specify whether it was a withdrawal or a tax-free transfer to a charity. (After you turn 70½, you can transfer up to $100,000 each year tax-free from your traditional IRA to charity, which counts as your required minimum distributions but isn’t included in your adjusted gross income. This is called a qualified charitable distribution, or QCD.)

When you file your Form 1040, you report the total distribution of $6,300 on line 4a. Then report $1,300 on line 4b and enter “QCD” to indicate that the remaining $5,000 is a qualified charitable distribution, which is not taxable. (If you had contributed your full RMD to charity, you would write $0 and “QCD” on line 4b.)

Keep an acknowledgement from the charity showing that it received your contribution in your tax records. See The Rules for Making a Tax-Free Donation from an IRA for more information about the procedure and tax records to keep.

For more information about reporting the QCD when you file your income tax return, see page 29 of the Instructions for Form 1040 at IRS.gov.

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