Archives for 2013

Congress Procrastinates Again on Tax-Free Charitable IRA Rollovers

Once again, a special provision of the Tax Code offering older owners of individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) an advantageous way to make charitable donations, is scheduled to expire on December 31. For the remainder of 2013, a traditional IRA owner, age 70½ or over, may transfer directly, tax-free, up to $100,000 per year to an eligible charity, regardless of whether he or she itemizes income-tax deductions.

IRAs Only

Donation can and heartDistributions from 401Ks, the TSPs of federal employees and military retirees, and other employer-sponsored retirement plans (such as SIMPLE IRAs and SEP plans) are not eligible. However, if you hurry, you may be able to roll assets from those plans into IRAs and donate them before the giving deadline expires.

To qualify, the funds must be transferred directly by your IRA trustee to an eligible charity. Not all charities are eligible. For example, donor-advised funds and “supporting organizations” are not eligible recipients.

The distributed amounts don’t qualify for deductions (since they were never taxed in the first place). Instead, they may be excluded from your income — giving you a smaller Adjusted Gross Income on your Form 1040.

Charitable Rollovers Are MRDs

Amounts transferred to a charity from an IRA are counted in determining whether you have met the IRA’s required minimum distribution (MRD) requirement. And if you have made both deductible and nondeductible contributions to your traditional IRAs, a special rule treats amounts distributed to charities as coming first from taxable funds, instead of proportionately from taxable and nontaxable funds, as would be the case with regular distributions made to you.

Tax-Free IRA Charitable Rollovers Reinstated by American Taxpayer Relief Act (“ATRA”)

Donation can and heartFrom 2006 through 2011, individuals age 70-1/2 or older were eligible to make donations of up to $100,000 directly from their individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to benefit public charities.

Although they received no charitable deduction for such transfers, they didn’t have to report the distribution as taxable income, either. Result: zero tax. And, such a distribution counted toward fulfilling their required minimum distributions (MRDs) for those years.

But Congress didn’t act during 2011 to extend them, so they disappeared during 2012. However, Congress, in its wisdom (and perhaps because nonprofit institutions deluged Congress with lobbyists) reinstated IRA charitable rollovers in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (signed into law on January 2, 2013), both for tax year 2013 and retroactively for tax year 2012. And since most taxpayers eligible to make IRA charitable rollovers didn’t make them in 2012 (since there was no guarantee they would get zero-tax treatment), Congress extended the period to make 2012 contributions through January 31, 2013.

If you decide to make an IRA charitable rollover during January, be sure to discuss with your tax advisor whether you should characterize it as a 2012 rollover or a 2013 rollover.