The SECURE Act Ruins a Perfectly Good QCD | Ed Slott and Company, LLC

The SECURE Act Ruins a Perfectly Good QCD

By Andy Ives, CFP®, AIF®
IRA Analyst
Follow Us on Twitter: 
@theslottreport


As we gradually peel back the layers of this legislative onion called the SECURE Act, more and more discoveries come to light. One revelation is how qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) are potentially affected. Could a QCD become, effectively, a taxable distribution? A looming cloud could soon peer over the shoulders of otherwise generous and giving individuals.

As a reminder, QCDs can be done by IRA owners (and inherited IRA owners) who are age 70½ or older. (The SECURE Act raised the age of RMDs to 72. However, the Act did not increase the age for QCDs - 70½ is the status quo.) IRA assets are transferred directly from an IRA to an eligible charity, and the dollar amount of the QCD is excluded from the account owner’s taxable income up to a maximum of $100,000 annually. Oftentimes, QCDs are leveraged to offset all or portion of a person’s required minimum distribution.

Yes, QCDs are a great planning tool…but the next layer of this onion stinks.

The SECURE Act also eliminated the 70½ age restriction for making deductible contributions to an IRA. Starting January 1, 2020, anyone with earned income, regardless of age, can contribute to a traditional IRA. That, in and of itself, is not bad. But what happens when a person over age 70½ combines a deductible IRA contribution with a QCD? Lousy things.

For example, Richard is 76 and still works part time. Since the SECURE Act eliminated the age restriction on traditional IRA contributions, Richard decides to make a deductible contribution of $7,000 to his IRA. Richard is also a charitable person and, in the same year as his contribution, he does a QCD for $10,000. The IRS views this as double-dipping. Richard cannot combine both the $7,000 deductible contribution and the $10,000 tax-free QCD. His otherwise tax-free QCD is reduced by the contribution amount, essentially causing $7,000 of his $10,000 QCD to be taxable.

Disregard the complicated formula provided by the SECURE Act in these situations. Just know that every post-70½ deductible IRA contribution is remembered by the IRS. These annual post-70½ contributions are tallied and totaled. The aggregate follows the IRA owner, ready to spring from the shadows and cancel the tax benefits of a future QCD.

In another example, Molly is 72 and works part-time as an organist at the local church. She makes a newly permitted $5,000 deductible contribution to her traditional IRA. Molly repeats this same transaction every year until she is 80 when she officially retires. Eight annual post-70½ deductible contributions of $5,000 have gone into her IRA totaling $40,000.

Molly has never done a QCD. When she is 85, she decides it is time to give back and requests a $50,000 QCD be directed to her church. There is a rumbling in the dark. Molly’s previous deductible contributions of $40,000, preserved by the IRS and lying dormant in a carry-forward bucket, spring forward and consume an equal amount of the QCD. In the end, $40,000 of Molly’s $50,000 QCD becomes taxable, and only $10,000 is excluded from her income for the year.

Those who itemize their taxes may find a fix. But if you take the standard deduction, is there a workaround? Not within a traditional IRA there isn’t – but other options exist. Avoid this rotten post-70½ onion altogether and simply contribute to a Roth.

 


Content Citation Guidelines

Below is the required verbiage that must be added to any re-branded piece from Ed Slott and Company, LLC or IRA Help, LLC. The verbiage must be used any time you take text from a piece and put it onto your own letterhead, within your newsletter, on your website, etc. Verbiage varies based on where you’re taking the content from.

Please be advised that prior to distributing re-branded content, you must send a proof to matt@irahelp.com for approval.

For white papers/other outflow pieces:
Copyright © [year of publication], [Ed Slott and Company, LLC or IRA Help, LLC - depending on what it says on the original piece] Reprinted with permission [Ed Slott and Company, LLC or IRA Help, LLC - depending on what it says on the original piece] takes no responsibility for the current accuracy of this information.

For charts:
Copyright © [year of publication], Ed Slott and Company, LLC Reprinted with permission Ed Slott and Company, LLC takes no responsibility for the current accuracy of this information.

For Slott Report articles:
Copyright © [year of article], Ed Slott and Company, LLC Reprinted from The Slott Report, [insert date of article], with permission. [Insert article URL] Ed Slott and Company, LLC takes no responsibility for the current accuracy of this article.

Please contact Matt Smith at matt@irahelp.com or (516) 536-8282 with any questions.

 

Find members of Ed Slott's Elite IRA Advisor GroupSM in your area.
We neither keep nor share your information entered on this form.
 

I agree to the terms and services:

You may review the terms and conditions here.