Tax-Free IRA Donations – Smart!

Give and Grin. If you are age 70½ (70.5) or older you can donate from your IRA directly to the Qualified Organization (see below) of your choice — tax-free! This special IRA donation rule allows you to give up to $100,000 in a calendar year. We call this the “Give and Grin Rule.”

Normally, when you take money out of your IRA, that money is taxable income to you. That’s fine, you say, you’ll just turn around and spend the money on your mortgage or give it to a charity — and get an offsetting deduction. But you might not get all or part of that deduction if, for example, you use the standard deduction or you itemize and your deductions get caught up in the phase-out rules.Give and GRin

Under the Give and Grin Rule, the money taken from the IRA is not taxable income to you.

  • And you don’t have to worry about whether you use the standard deduction, itemize or face other deduction limits.
  • Actually, if you were going to make a charitable deduction anyway, using the Grin and Give Rule could help you protect your other itemized deductions, and even save taxes on your social security.
  • And, of course, the charity doesn’t have to pay any tax either.

In other words, turning your IRA distribution into an IRA donation makes your IRA distribution tax-free!

And the gift counts against your required minimum distribution.

Qualified Organization: Reminder, you have to be dealing with a Qualified Organization (one that is eligible to accept tax-deductible charitable contributions). And not all Qualified Organizations are eligible (for example, donor-advised funds and supporting organizations are not). Caring House is a Qualified Organization and is eligible to receive Give and Grin donations.


Financial press spreads the word

Major personal finance and news outlets are spreading the word about the Give and Grin Rule. See these articles,


More Details: The maximum annual total using the rule is $100,000. The gift must be made directly from your IRA trustee to the charity. Be sure to obtain a written receipt from the charity to substantiate your donation. The Rule applies to many charities, but not all. This is a Federal income tax law; check whether the your state’s income tax laws have been conformed to include the extension. Consult your tax advisor. Don’t give away money you may need.

Are you old enough?

You have to be age 70 and 1/2 (70.5) at the time you make the donation.

If you were born in or before 1947, you’re eligible now (as of June 30, 2018) without worrying about dates.

A few more timing examples for you

Born  Eligible on and after
December 31, 1948 June 30, 2019
September 30, 1948 March 31, 2019
June 30, 1948 December 31, 2018
March 31, 1948 September 30, 2018
December 31, 1947 June 30, 2018

Instruct your IRA trustee or write a check

It’s easy-peasy to be an IRA Smarty is you are able to write checks directly from the IRA. You make the check payable to the charity (e.g., Caring House) and send it yourself. Make sure you don’t make the check payable to yourself.

Otherwise, instruct your IRA trustee (brokerage, bank, etc.) to write a check on your IRA with Caring House as the payee, and have the trustee send it directly to Caring House so it’s received before the end of the year. The address is Caring House, 2842 El Dorado Street, Torrance, CA 90503. Our tax identification number is 20-2201206.

More background for you

The rule was in effect in 2013, and came back at for a short times since then. Now, it’s been resurrected indefinitely.

The IRS refers to these distributions as Qualified Charitable Distributions. Here’s a bit of what IRS Publication 590-B has to say.

Qualified charitable distributions. A qualified charitable distribution (QCD) is generally a nontaxable distribution made directly by the trustee of your IRA (other than a SEP or SIMPLE IRA) to an organization eligible to receive tax deductible contributions. You must be at least age 70½ when the distribution was made. Also, you must have the same type of acknowledgment of your contribution that you would need to claim a deduction for charitable contribution. See Records To Keep in Pub. 526.

The maximum annual exclusion for QCDs is $100,000. Any QCD in excess of the $100,000 exclusion limit is included in income as any other distribution. If you file a joint return, your spouse can also have a QCD and exclude up to $100,000. The amount of the QCD is limited to the amount of the distribution that would otherwise be included in income. If your IRA includes nondeductible contributions, the distribution is first considered to be paid out of otherwise taxable income.

A QCD will count towards your required minimum distribution, discussed earlier.