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This might be a really stupid question, but I've been wondering about it for some time now:

Let's say I start investing at a young age. I open an IRA, invest Foolishly, and over the years do very well. Let's say then that at some age before 59 1/2 I realize that I've done so well that I have much more than I need in retirement. Furthermore, a charitable cause grabs my attention that has an immediate need for money. I know in a normal account, I can make a donation and not have to pay my capital gains taxes because I'm donating the stock (and the recipient, being a non-profit, won't have to pay the taxes either.) Can I do the same with an IRA before 59 1/2, or will I face the standard taxes and penalties for removing stuff from the account before the magic age?

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