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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/charitable-contributions-from-an-ira-30701442.aspx

Subject:  Charitable Contributions from an IRA Date:  5/24/2013  10:58 PM
Author:  pauleckler Number:  72276 of 76418

Those over 70-1/2 and subject to required minimum distributions can instead donate directly from the IRA to a 501c3 charity. The donation counts toward their required minimum distribution.

IRS Publication 590 p 40

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 age70-1/2 when the distribution was made. Also, you must have the same type of acknowledgement of your contribution that you would need to claim a deduction for a charitable contribution. See Records To Keep in Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.

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
. . .

For most people the QCD would seem to offer no advantage compared to taking the mandatory distribution and then donating it to charity for a deduction. However, the charity deduction is limited to 50% of adjusted gross income (for 501c3 charities) and can be as little as 20% in some cases. Apparently QCD is an exception to this limit that allows contributions up to $100k without regard to AGI.
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