IRA Charitable Distributions

For anybody 70.5 years or older, an IRA is a great option for making gifts to the Lord’s work at church, a local WELS-affiliated ministry, and/or a WELS area of ministry.

Typically IRA distributions are taxable, but, as of 2016, Congress made permanent the opportunity known as the IRA qualified charitable distribution where direct transfers from an IRA to charity are free from federal and potentially state income tax for anyone 70.5 or older. Consider directing IRA distributions to WELS to save on taxes, then using the cash you would have given for other needs.

Under the new law you and your spouse, assuming he or she is 70.5 years or older and has an IRA, may each make direct transfers of up to $100,000 per year to charity. Rather than being treated as taxable income, direct transfers to charity are wholly excluded for federal income tax purposes. These transfers do not generate a charitable deduction, but the relief from tax impact is often more advantageous. Consult your tax or financial advisor to determine the most appropriate gift assets for your situation.

Contact the investment firm that handles your IRA to request a direct transfer of IRA assets to a WELS ministry. They typically provide the appropriate paperwork (or you can download an authorization letter template below). To ensure that your IRA transfer is not taxable, the check must be made payable to the charity, not to you personally.

You can give to multiple WELS designations by directing your transfer to WELS Foundation. WELS Foundation will distribute funds to the ministries per your instructions and provide you with the proper acknowledgement.

If interested, talk to your financial planners and your local WELS Christian giving counselor to learn more.

Downloadable resources

Letter template for authorizing a distribution from an IRADownload 
Letter template for a charity to acknowledge receipt of a distributionDownload 
Articles promoting IRA charitable distribution opportunity (WELS Cloud - login required)Download 
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  • September 24, 2019 Last Updated