New RMD Rules Let You Turn Charitable Donations into Retirement Income for Life

New RMD Rules Let You Turn Charitable Donations into Retirement Income for Life

Investors who chafe at having to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) each year have a new tool to help them reduce the tax bite of these withdrawals – and provide retirement income for life.

A financial advisor can help you manage your RMDs and tax liability in retirement.

Among the many provisions in the new SECURE 2.0 Act is an option that allows IRA holders to combine qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) with a little-known vehicle called a charitable gift annuity. The result? Your charitable donations can help fund your lifestyle in retirement. Here’s how it works.

How to Turn a QCD into Lifetime Income

New RMD Rules Let You Turn Charitable Donations into Retirement Income for Life

New RMD Rules Let You Turn Charitable Donations into Retirement Income for Life

Anyone turning 73 this year is required to take a taxable required minimum distribution (RMD) from their IRA (the rules and ages vary according to birth dates). Someone turning 73 with an IRA worth $500,000 at the end of 2022 would need to withdraw $18,868 by the end of the year. That money is taxed as ordinary income.

Contributions to qualified charities can be made directly from an IRA for up to $100,000 each year, with that money being tax-exempt and counting toward the annual RMD amount. As of Jan. 1, retirees ages 70 1/2 or older can donate up to $50,000 of that $100,000 in one single tax year only to a charitable gift annuity.

In exchange for the donation, the charity makes a fixed annual annuity payment to the donor for the rest of their life or for the lifetime of the donor and donor’s spouse. The payment must be 5% of the donation or more. Most charities set the annuity payouts using the American Council on Gift Annuities suggested rates, according to The Wall Street Journal.

recent article uses the example of a 70-something retiree who donated $25,000 from her IRA to her alma mater, which immediately reduced the taxable income from her required minimum distribution (RMD) by that amount. By directing the money to her college’s charitable gift annuity program, she has a fixed 7% annuity that will pay her $1,750 a year for the rest of her life. If she lives another 15 years, she’ll receive more from the annuity than the amount of her original gift.

Taxes and Other Considerations

New RMD Rules Let You Turn Charitable Donations into Retirement Income for Life

New RMD Rules Let You Turn Charitable Donations into Retirement Income for Life

While this strategy can help lower your tax bill in a given year, keep in mind that the annuity payments are considered ordinary income, so you’ll owe taxes on the money. Additionally, any money left over after the death of the donors goes to the charity.

While the $50,000 contribution must be made in a single year, it can be broken up into smaller amounts and distributed to different charities that offer charitable gift annuities.

However, both the $100,000 charitable donation limit and the $50,000 charitable gift annuity limit adjust for inflation after 2023. The annuity is backed by the assets of the charity.

Gift annuities allow donors to make contributions to charities that they otherwise might not be able to afford if they weren’t going to receive the annuity payments in return, since it provides some income for the rest of the donor’s life.

Bottom Line

Recent changes to the laws surrounding required minimum distributions (RMDs) from IRAs and other tax-deferred accounts have given retirees a bit more flexibility about how to handle their withdrawals and the resulting taxes. Using RMD money to make a charitable donation reduces the amount of taxable income from the distribution. Making a donation from an IRA to a charity offering a gift annuity provides some lifetime income for donors who might otherwise not be able to afford to make a donation.

Retirement Planning Tips

  • Tax planning is an essential part of determining how to save and invest for retirement, and becomes even more important when you start taking withdrawals. A financial advisor can help you answer your questions about RMDs and taxes. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

  • Social Security is a key component of most retirees’ income plans. Knowing how much you can expect to receive is vital to creating a financial plan in retirement that meets your needs. SmartAsset’s Social Security calculator can estimate how much your benefits will be and help you determine when is the best time to claim them.

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