Charitable Giving

Qualified Charitable Distributions: Giving Money While Saving Money

Josh Bitel Contributed by: Josh Bitel, CFP®

Qualified Charitable Distributions

The Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) can be a powerful and tax-efficient way to achieve one’s philanthropic goals. This strategy has become much more popular under the new tax laws.

QCD Refresher

The QCD, which applies only if you’re at least 70 ½ years old, essentially allows you to directly donate your entire Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) to a charity. Normally, any distribution from an IRA is considered ordinary income from a tax perspective; however, when the dollars go directly to a charity or 501(c)3 organization, the distribution from the IRA is considered not taxable.

Let’s Look at an Example

Sandy turned 70 ½ in June 2019, and this is the first year she has to take a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from her IRA, which happens to be $25,000. A charitably inclined person, Sandy gifts, on average, nearly $30,000 each year to her church. Because she does not really need the proceeds from her RMD, she can have the $25,000 directly transferred to her church, either by check or electronic deposit. She would then avoid paying tax on the distribution. Since Sandy is in the 24% tax bracket, she saves approximately $6,000 in federal taxes!

Rules to Consider

The QCD and similar strategies have rules and nuances you should keep in mind to ensure proper execution:

  • Only distributions from IRAs are permitted for the QCD. Simple and SEP IRAs must be “inactive.”

    • Employer plans such as a 401k, 403b, 457 do not allow for the QCD.

    • The QCD is permitted within a Roth IRA but would not make sense from a tax perspective, because Roth IRA withdrawals are tax-free by age 70 ½.*

  • You must be 70 ½ at the time the QCD is processed.

  • Funds from the QCD must go directly to the charity and cannot go to you first and then out to the charity.

  • You can give, at most, $100,000 to charity through the QCD in any year, even if this figure exceeds the actual amount of your RMD.

The amount of money saved from being intentional with how you gift funds to charity can potentially keep more money in your pocket, which ultimately means there’s more to give to the organizations you passionately support.

Josh Bitel, CFP® is an Associate Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® He conducts financial planning analysis for clients and has a special interest in retirement income analysis.

Webinar in Review: The Big Four - Understanding Estate Documents

Tim Wyman Contributed by: Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD

Missed the webinar? Don’t worry, there’s a recording!

See the below time stamps to listen to the topics you’re most interested in:

  • What is estate planning? (Minute 0:30)

  • Current Estate Tax Environment: (1:40)

  • Last Will & Testament: (5:20)

  • Revocable Living Trust (11:30)

  • Durable Power of Attorney- Finances/ Property (12:10)

  • Durable Power of Attorney- Healthcare (13:20)

  • Asset Titling & Beneficiary Designations (14:30)

  • Resources (15:50)

Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® and is a contributor to national media and publications such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), mentored many CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.

Holiday Financial Conversations for the Generations: Children

 The hustle and bustle of everyday life does not always give us the chance to have meaningful conversations with our children about money and charitable giving.  The long holiday vacation is the perfect time to have these conversations, but does any child want to spend school break listening to lesson from their parents? 

Some ways to sneak in teachable moments around money and giving this season: 

  • Keep extra change with you when you are out shopping and have your children donate to the Salvation Army red kettles.  Have a conversation about where the money goes and how it helps.
  • While shopping for Christmas gifts, have your children pick out an extra toy to give to Toys for Tots or other charitable organization. Again, talk about where the toy is going.
  • As part of your family holiday tradition, consider adopting a family to provide Christmas or Hanukkah gifts.  Have a conversation about helping others to have a holiday that they might not otherwise have.
  • After your children have opened their gifts, ask them to go through their old toys and clothes to find those that they have outgrown.  These gently-used items can be donated to an organization for others to use and enjoy.

These are just a few ideas to help you instill the spirit of giving in your children this holiday season; to teach them that this time is as much about giving as receiving.

In my next blog, I will provide tips for talking to your teenage children about preparing for college funding.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In 2012 and 2013, Sandy was named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

Leaving a Legacy

 There are many ways to make your mark in the world today.  Some give of their time and talents through volunteering and others give financially to the causes near and dear to their hearts  Consider a hypothetical couple that wants to preserve their legacy and give to four organizations that they would like to help succeed, we’ll call them Dick and Jane. Dick and Jane have been good savers throughout their working years. Fortunately, they accumulated enough assets to care for their own retirement needs with a high expectation of having a surplus, regardless of what financial markets deliver for their remaining years. In a recent annual review meeting, Dick and Jane determined that it was time to make financial contributions to some of area institutions that they feel are benefitting the larger society. Essentially, they wanted to help ensure these organizations are around to enrich other lives like they have their own. 

Suppose Dick and Jane could comfortably gift $50,000 each to four organizations; Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan Opera Theatre, Michigan Nature Conservancy, and the Detroit Symphony.  Each of these organizations contributed to their well-being and they may consider it is time to “give back”.  Working together, we may be able to identify securities in their portfolio that could help maximize their contributions as discussed in this prior blog .  If Dick and Jane would like their gifting to remain anonymous, they could consider establishing a Donor Advised Fund (as I discussed in a recent blog) to facilitate the donations. In the end, Dick and Jane can make tax leveraged gifts benefitting four organizations with the hopes that these groups will continue to enrich the lives of Michigan residents.  As a fellow Michigander and financial planner, it would be rewarding to see them leave their mark. 

If you are planning to leave a legacy, here are 4 Steps to get you started:

  1. Determine your financial ability to give financially – never give away a dollar that you might need for your needs
  2. Research possible organizations
  3. Determine the most tax efficient manner to give – preferably appreciated securities
  4. Enjoy knowing that you have made a significant contribution to society

Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD is the Managing Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and is a frequent contributor to national media including appearances on Good Morning America Weekend Edition and WDIV Channel 4 News and published articles including Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. A leader in his profession, Tim served on the National Board of Directors for the 28,000 member Financial Planning Association™ (FPA®), trained and mentored hundreds of CFP® practitioners and is a frequent speaker to organizations and businesses on various financial planning topics.


The illustration above is hypothetical.  Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.  You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

Giving Charitably and Doubling Your Tax Benefit

 Many of you are inclined to make large charitable contributions by writing a check.  If the cash is not already sitting in cash, you many need to go to your taxable investment account to determine what to liquidate to create the cash for the donation.  Sure, this can provide you with an itemized deduction to potentially decrease your taxable income*, but might there be a way to make an even bigger impact on your current and future tax liability?

If you hold appreciated stocks or mutual funds in a taxable investment accounts, why not try to avoid paying capital gains tax when you sell to create the cash for your charitable donation?  Did you know that most charitable organizations, including churches and synagogues, can accept a donation of shares of a stock or mutual fund as a gift?  And did you know that in donating this way, you  can avoid paying capital gains tax on a security, and so can the qualified non-profit receiving organizations? 

So, by using an appreciated security, not only can you avoid capital gains tax that could be significantly higher than the 15% top rate we’ve had in recent years, but you may retain the right to use the value of the security donated as an itemized deduction. Double bonus!  (Triple bonus if this also allows you to tax-efficiently reduce an over-weighted position in your portfolio).

Before you write that big check to your favorite charity, consult your financial planner and tax advisor to see if opportunities exist to double your tax benefit by using appreciated securities instead.

This is how the capital gains rates look under the American Taxpayer Relief Act:

0% Capital Gains: 

Those in the 15% marginal tax bracket ($36,250 single filers/$72,500 married filing jointly)

15% Capital Gains:

Those in the 25%, 28%, 33%, or 35% marginal brackets

Those over $200,000/$250,000 but below $400,000/$450,000 are subject to the Medicare surtax, which means that effectively capital gains (and qualified dividends) are taxed at 18.8%

20% Capital Gains:

Those in the 39.6% marginal bracket ($400,000/$450,000).  Because of the Medicare surtax, this means that effectively, capital gains (and qualified dividends) are taxed at 23.8% (and up to 26% during the personal exemption and itemized deduction phase outs).

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In 2012 and 2013, Sandy was named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

*Note that the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 implemented a phase out of itemized deductions for taxpayers with taxable income of over $250,000 for single filers/$300,000 married filing jointly.

The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.  Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation.  Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of Raymond James.  You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

Donor Advised Fund – A Way to Manage Your Charitable Giving

 It is better to give than to receive.

Whether it is giving of your time, talents or financial resources, there is a lot to be gained by simply being generous. As a professional financial advisor, one of my many great pleasures is helping clients plan and then efficiently give to causes near and dear to them.  Recently, I helped long-time clients do just that.  After conducting a Financial Independence analysis that provided confidence that they were in a position to provide financial assistance to others, they decided to earmark a significant amount for charitable giving.  However, like many, these clients were not sure which charity to give support … just yet.

Enter the DONOR ADVISED FUND. Donor Advised Funds have been around for a while – but I am still surprised at how little they are used. Many firms and organizations offer them – Southeast MI Community Foundation, Fidelity, Raymond James, etc. There are many situations where a donor advised fund might make sense.

Hopefully you are aware of the advantages of gifting appreciated securities, which allow you to avoid capital gains taxation (note that I said avoid and not evade).  When you gift appreciated securities to a charity or donor advised fund held for longer than 12 months, you are able to deduct the fair market value of the securities and avoid capital gains. I like to say that there are three parties to a charitable donation; you, the charity, and your silent partner the IRS.  We want you and the charity to benefit the most.

A donor advised fund allows you to lock in the gain by transferring the shares to the donor advised fund. Next, you get an immediate income tax deduction. And then, you can decide on the specific charity or charities to benefit at a later date. For more information visit the web site www.myfamilyfoundation.org. If you would like additional assistance – give us a call – we’d like nothing more than to help you with your charitable giving.


The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material.  The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.  Any information is not a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and does not constitute a recommendation.  Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Charitable Giving: Your Annual Giving Plan

 Once you have determined the causes you want to support and have done your homework on those chosen charities, it’s time to put together your giving plan.  A giving plan can help you track your giving on an annual basis, to document your legacy giving wishes, and to communicate your giving desires to your family. 

Your annual giving plan could look something like this and helps you outline your giving based on:

  • Funding areas – Cultural arts, education, social programs, the environment, animals, religious affiliations, support programs, health/research, etc.
  • Local versus Global reach – Determine your desire to support organizations that serve close to home versus those that serve a broader/global community.
  • Identify the Specific Organization(s) in each funding area
  • Identify specific organizations and specific gifting – Determine your annual giving amount in dollars and/or percentages and track when you’ve met each annual goal.
  • Identify your Legacy Gifting Wishes – Document the organizations you have identified to receive charitable dollars from your estate.  While this form does not have any legal authority and does not replace the needed legal documents (trusts, wills, etc.), it is a way to communicate your charitable giving desires.

Your annual giving plan will help you (1) plan and track your annual giving and (2) provide a tool with which to communicate your charitable giving with your family.  Feel free to use our Giving Plan (link form here) form, or develop a format that works best for you.  The important part is to develop your personal giving goals based on what is important to you, to verify the organizations you choose use your gifts to provide the most good, and to make sure that your gifting fits into your overall financial plan.

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” ~Albert Pike


Changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person’s situation.  Please discuss tax matters with the appropriate professional.  Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Charitable Giving: Researching Your Charities

 In my previous post, I addressed the reasons that individuals decide to give to charities.  Once you have made the conscious decision to give, how do you make sure your contributions are making a real difference and not just funding the salaries of the organization’s executives?

The internet makes it easier than ever to do your own investigating.  By doing your own due diligence, you can make better decisions about which charitable organizations most deserve your hard-earned dollars.  Here are a few things to look for:

  • Look for IRS-Approved Charities – Verifying that a charity is an IRS-approved nonprofit organization will not only ensure that your contribution will be tax deductible, but IRS-approved charities have stringent application and reporting requirements, which generally weeds out those organizations that are ill-intended.
  • Look at the Financial Strength and Practices of the Charities – Web sites like Charity Navigator (also a tax-exempt charity) rates over 3,000 of the largest charities by looking at their financial practices (revenue spent on executing programs and services, overall financial strength, etc.). You may have to dig a little deeper on the web to get information on smaller charities.  Your local United Way may be of assistance with local charities.
  • Look at the Programs and Services Provided by the Charities – The name of the charity itself may not define the scope of the programs or services provided.  Be sure you understand whom the organization serves and how they serve them. This way you can make sure you are supporting the cause you are aiming to support.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of high-quality charities that satisfy your desire to give, you need to put together an annual giving plan. Watch for my next post where I discuss how to put together such a plan.


Changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person’s situation.  Please discuss tax matters with the appropriate professional.  Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

Charitable Giving: Why Do We Give?

 Tax-deductible charitable donations are a great way to get even more deductions on your tax return. By itemizing those donations to qualified charities on your 1040 Schedule A, you may be able to reduce your taxable income. In her ‘Tis the Season to Give blog written late last year, Julie Hall, CFP® outlined the different ways to give on a tax-efficient basis.  But aside from the attractive benefit of potentially lower taxes, why do we give to charities?

Individuals give to charities for many different reasons:

  • Support a Personal Connection– We may know someone who works for a charity or benefits from the organization in some way (i.e. a relative is a breast cancer survivor, so a donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation feels like the right way to give back).
  • Support Society as a Whole – We may feel like, because we are fortunate to be financially comfortable, we should do our part and give back to those who are less fortunate (i.e. a local food bank).
  • Support a Cause We Truly Believe In – We have a passion for a cause (i.e. animal lovers may choose to support the Humane Society).
  • Support an alma mater – We give back to our local high school or college as a “thank you” for the educational experience.
  • Support a Religious Affiliation – We tithe to our church on a local, national, or international level.

If you’ve made the conscious decision to give to charities, it is important to (1) research the charities you’re interested in to make sure that they are legitimate and that your donations will be used responsibly for the intended cause and (2) track your giving and communicate your giving plan to your family.

In my next post, I will take a closer look at the best ways to research your charities.