Charitable Contributions from IRAs

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 first allowed taxpayers age 70½ and older to make tax-free charitable donations directly from their IRAs. By making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) from an IRA directly to a qualified charitable organization, older IRA owners were allowed to exclude up to $100,000 annually from gross income. These gifts, also known as "charitable IRA rollovers," would otherwise be taxable IRA distributions. The law was originally scheduled to expire in 2007, but was extended periodically through 2014 by subsequent legislation and finally made permanent by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015.

How QCDs work

You must be 70½ or older in order to be eligible to make QCDs. You simply instruct your IRA trustee to make a distribution directly from your IRA (other than SEP and SIMPLE IRAs) to a qualified charity. The distribution must be one that would otherwise be taxable to you. You can exclude up to $100,000 of QCDs from your gross income each year. And if you file a joint return, your spouse (if 70½ or older) can exclude an additional $100,000 of QCDs. Note: You don't get to deduct QCDs as a charitable contribution on your federal income tax return — that would be double-dipping.

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