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Todd Villarrubia

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How Do Qualified Charitable Distributions Work?

Posted On: December 19, 2023

By: Todd Villarrubia

Todd M. Villarrubia, an authority in wealth planning and preservation, brings over 30 years of in-depth, experience to the complex challenges of safeguarding familial and individual wealth. Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, his expertise is not only recognized in the local community but also reverberates within the legal industry.
Charitable-Planning
For taxpayers who stress over annual Required Minimum Distributions and are also inclined to charitable giving, Qualified Charitable Distributions or QCDs have been a useful tool to accommodate both relief over federal income tax angst and the desire to donate.

Qualified Charitable Distributions use the federal tax code to benefit older taxpayers and must take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs). Recent changes in federal law under the SECURE Act 2.0 present even more opportunities to use QCDs, according to a recent article, “Planning Ahead: Expanding on year-end tax strategies for Qualified Charitable Distributions,” from The Mercury. How does it work?

Required Minimum Distributions for seniors can become a problem since taxpayers above a given age must withdraw specific amounts based on their age from traditional retirement accounts and pay taxes on the withdrawals, regardless of whether they need the money. The reason is obvious: if people weren’t required to take funds out of their accounts, the government would never have the opportunity to generate tax revenue. The QCD lessens the blow of the additional year-end taxes by providing some relief through donations to qualified charities.

Used correctly, the QCD serves two purposes: saving on taxes and benefiting a favorite charity. Charities include any 501(c)(3) entities under the federal tax code. Before using a QCD, ensure the charity you choose is a qualified 501(c)(3). Otherwise, you’ll lose any tax benefits.

Your estate planning attorney can help you understand the process of making a QCD. You’ll need to coordinate with the custodian of the IRA. While some may provide step-by-step information, others require you to coordinate with your estate planning attorney and financial advisor. A reminder—the point of the QCD is that the distribution does not appear in your adjusted gross income and goes directly to the charity.

Usually, taking RMDs adds funds to your taxable income, which can, unfortunately, push you into a higher income tax bracket. It could also limit or eliminate some tax deductions, such as personal exemptions and itemized deductions. There may be increases in taxes on Social Security benefits as well. Whether you want or need to take the RMD, you must take it and include it as taxable income.

A QCD allows individuals required to take RMDs to donate up to $100,000 to one or more qualified charities directly from a taxable IRA without the funds being counted as income.

The RMD age has increased to 73, but the $100,000 will be indexed for inflation. Under SECURE Act 2.0, individuals will be allowed to make a one-time election of up to $50,000 inflation-indexed for QCDs to certain entities, including Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts, Charitable Remainder Unitrusts and Charitable Gift Annuities.

QCDs cannot be made to donor-advised funds, private foundations and supporting organizations, even though these are often categorized as charities.

It must be noted that the rules concerning QCD are detailed and strict—you’ll want the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.

The QCD must be made by December 31 of the tax year in question.

Reference: The Mercury (Nov. 22, 2023) “Planning Ahead: Expanding on year-end tax strategies for Qualified Charitable Distributions”

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