Natalie Choate, widely recognized as the authority on IRAs and estate planning, turns 70 1/2 this year. This age is key as it is the time when required IRA payouts begin.
At 70 1/2, each year owners typically must withdraw a percentage of their total IRA assets. This percentage increases every year, and IRA owners have until April 1 after the year they turn 70 1/2 to take their first required withdrawal. After that, the annual deadline is December 31.
If you are considering making charitable gifts, a transfer from your IRA may be highly tax-efficient. IRA owners are allowed to give up to $100,000 in cash from an IRA to charity and have the donation count as part of their required withdrawal. The advantage is that Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is a trigger for many tax provisions like the 3.8% surtax on net investment income. It is also used to determine payments for some Medicare premiums and taxes on Social Security payments. Lowering Adjusted Gross Income can lower these taxes.
Laura Saunders cites an example in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal: A single IRA owner has AGI of $210,000, including $160,000 of investment income. The person, who has a $50,000 required IRA payout, will write checks for $15,000 to charities this year. Under current law, $10,000 of the investment income would be subject to the 3.8% surtax because the owner’s AGI is above $200,000.
If this IRA owner makes the $15,000 of charitable gifts from his IRA, the result is different. The owner’s taxable portion of his IRA payout drops to $35,000 and the AGI to $195,000 so there is no 3.8% surtax.Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.