In addition to income tax savings at the time contributions are made to such plans, the assets in the plans then build tax free over time for future enjoyment.
Amounts held in tax-favored retirement plans are typically not subject to income tax until they are actually withdrawn from the plan by the plan owner or surviving heirs.
You may find that your retirement plan can also at times be a convenient "pocket" from which to make charitable gifts to Pacific University each year.
Special IRA Giving Opportunity for 2013
As part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, Congress has renewed a special giving incentive for those over the age of 70½. It is once again possible to make completely tax-free gifts from traditional IRA and Roth IRA accounts. Gifts for 2013 must be completed by December 31, 2013. The law also retroactively exempts from federal tax any gifts made to charity from an IRA account in 2012.
A gift of any amount up to a total of $100,000 from a traditional or Roth IRA may be given directly to a charitable organization in 2013 without reporting the funds as income for federal tax purposes. This can be a special way to make gifts on a tax-free basis without worry about normal deduction limitations, additional taxes on Social Security benefits, state income taxes in most cases, or other adverse tax consequences that might otherwise apply.
John, age 74, enjoys making charitable gifts in the form of cash each year. This year, after learning about special benefits from giving retirement account assets, he decides to contact his IRA administrator to request that a portion of his IRA be used to make gifts directly to charities of his choice.
Summary of benefits:
• John does not report the withdrawal amount on his tax return.
• The amount of his gift is not taxed, thereby reducing his income taxes.
• His tax bracket is not affected.
• Additional tax is not incurred on his Social Security income.
To qualify for benefits of making gifts from a traditional or Roth IRA, it is important that funds from your IRA not be withdrawn by you, but instead be distributed directly to one or more qualified charities. If you have check-writing privileges associated with your IRA account, the IRS considers a check to be a transfer directly to charity. Gifts may not be made to donor-advised funds, private foundations or supporting organizations. Check with your IRA administrator or other advisors for more information
Other retirement plan gift opportunities
If you are over the age of 59½, and can make withdrawals from your traditional IRA or other tax-favored retirement plan without triggering an early withdrawal penalty, you may wish to make withdrawals from retirement plans in amounts sufficient to fund all or a portion of your charitable gifts. Those over the age of 70½ who would like to make gifts in excess of amounts that can be given tax free, or would like to give from a retirement plan other than a traditional or Roth IRA may also wish to make their gifts in this way.
Although you will be required to report the income on your tax return, when you itemize your deductions, you are allowed a corresponding charitable deduction for your cash gifts up to 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
If you are able to deduct the full amount of the gift/withdrawal, this can amount to a "wash" for federal tax purposes and ensure these funds will, in effect, never be subject to gift, income, or estate taxes.
You should seek assistance from your accountant or other advisor when determining the optimum amount to give from retirement plan accounts under federal and state tax laws.
Avoid Double Taxation
You also may want to consider including charitable gifts as part of your plans for the future distribution of any balances remaining in your retirement plans at the end of your lifetime.
Because they are included as part of one's estate at death, the assets in tax-favored retirement plans such as an IRA, 401(k), SEP, and similar plans can be subject to federal and/or state estate taxes.
In addition, when heirs receive the balance of retirement plans after payment of estate taxes of up to 40% or more, income tax will also be due—up to 39.6% or more—depending on state income taxes and other factors. Thus, the combination of income and estate taxes that could eventually be levied on retirement accounts may, in some cases, amount to the bulk of an account's value.
Rather than allowing retirement assets to be reduced by a combination of estate and income taxes, you can direct that such assets be used to fund charitable gifts from your estate. This can actually result in more assets being received by loved ones than if retirement assets were left to family and charitable gifts were made from other funds.