Close this search box.

Qualified Charitable Distributions and Your IRA

Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs, to the initiated) are a relatively recent addition to the federal income tax rules. Using them can make a real difference in the income taxes some IRA owners have to pay.

If you are over age 72 (or younger, if you inherited an IRA from someone else) you may know at least a little about required minimum distributions. Every year you must withdraw at least a minimum amount from your IRA. You can withdraw more, of course. But you pay tax on every dollar you withdraw.

There are exceptions and some special rules. If you have a Roth IRA, there are no minimum distribution rules (unless you inherited it). To the extent the IRA contributions were taxed before going in, withdrawals might not trigger taxation. But still, the income tax effect can be pretty overwhelming — particularly to a retiree who doesn’t actually need the minimum distribution to cover living expenses.

Try this illustration:

Imagine, for example, that you had $400,000 in your IRA on December 31 of last year. This year you turn 75. You’ll have to withdraw almost $18,000. If you have plenty of other income, you could be paying as much as about $6,500 of additional tax. And that is on income you didn’t really need at all.

Now imagine that you have a favorite charity, and last year you gave them $20,000. Unfortunately, you couldn’t deduct the contribution last year. Especially with an expanded standard deduction, a lot of taxpayers find that they don’t get any specific income tax benefit from charitable gifts — even large ones.

Eureka! This year you can order your IRA custodian to send your minimum distribution directly to your charity! You don’t get a deduction at all — but you get something much better. You get the entire $18,000 out of your taxable income in the first place.

Join us for a discussion of this concept. Then ask your tax preparer or estate planning attorney if you benefit from using qualified charitable distributions.

Follow us on your favorite platform:

Be sure to stay up to date on our latest episodes on your favorite platforms. Make sure to follow, subscribe, and download your favorite episodes and be notified when new episodes are released. 

Robert B. Fleming


Robert Fleming is a Fellow of both the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been certified as a Specialist in Estate and Trust Law by the State Bar of Arizona‘s Board of Legal Specialization, and he is also a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. Robert has a long history of involvement in local, state and national organizations. He is most proud of his instrumental involvement in the Special Needs Alliance, the premier national organization for lawyers dealing with special needs trusts and planning.

Robert has two adult children, two young grandchildren and a wife of over fifty years. He is devoted to all of them. He is also very fond of Rosalind Franklin (his office companion corgi), and his homebound cat Muninn. He just likes people, their pets and their stories.

Elizabeth N.R. Friman


Elizabeth Noble Rollings Friman is a principal and licensed fiduciary at Fleming & Curti, PLC. Elizabeth enjoys estate planning and helping families navigate trust and probate administrations. She is passionate about the fiduciary work that she performs as a trustee, personal representative, guardian, and conservator. Elizabeth works with CPAs, financial professionals, case managers, and medical providers to tailor solutions to complex family challenges. Elizabeth is often called upon to serve as a neutral party so that families can avoid protracted legal conflict. Elizabeth relies on the expertise of her team at Fleming & Curti, and as the Firm approaches its third decade, she is proud of the culture of care and consideration that the Firm embodies. Finding workable solutions to sensitive and complex family challenges is something that Elizabeth and the Fleming & Curti team do well.

Amy F. Matheson


Amy Farrell Matheson has worked as an attorney at Fleming & Curti since 2006. A member of the Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council, she is primarily responsible for estate planning and probate matters.

Amy graduated from Wellesley College with a double major in political science and English. She is an honors graduate of Suffolk University Law School and has been admitted to practice in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Prior to joining Fleming & Curti, Amy worked for American Public Television in Boston, and with the international trade group at White & Case, LLP, in Washington, D.C.

Amy’s husband, Tom, is an astronomer at NOIRLab and the Head of Time Domain Services, whose main project is ANTARES. Sadly, this does not involve actual time travel. Amy’s twin daughters are high school students; Finn, her Irish Red and White Setter, remains a puppy at heart.

Famous people's wills

Matthew M. Mansour


Matthew is a law clerk who recently earned his law degree from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. His undergraduate degree is in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Matthew has had a passion for advocacy in the Tucson community since his time as a law student representative in the Workers’ Rights Clinic. He also has worked in both the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Pima County Public Defender’s Office. He enjoys playing basketball, caring for his cat, and listening to audiobooks narrated by the authors.