Changes to RMD Provide Expanded Opportunities for Giving

What is a Required Minimum Distribution?

If you have an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and are of a certain age, then you have an excellent tool to help your parish! Recent legislative changes impacted the rules for when IRA owners must take taxable withdrawals from their IRA and when they may use the withdrawal for a non-taxable distribution for charity.

In 2019, IRA owners were required to withdraw an annual minimum the year they reached age 70.5. Known as the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) this amount is taxable at the account owner’s ordinary income tax rate. Effective January 1, 2020, the SECURE Act[1]:

  • extended the RMD age from 70½ to 72.
  • traditional IRA owners may now make IRA contributions indefinitely as long as they have earned income.
  • most non-spouses inheriting IRAs must take distributions that will fully empty the account within 10 years.

Pandemic relief legislation waived penalties for some COVID-19-related emergencies that required early IRA withdrawals (prior to age 70.5). It does not matter whether you need the RMD money for your living expenses or not. You must take the distribution each year or face a penalty of 50% of the RMD amount.

Meanwhile, any withdrawals you make (above your basis of previously taxed contributions) will be considered a part of your taxable income for the year (unless you have a Roth IRA).

Using your RMD for Charity

Required Minimum Distributions are a wonderful tool to keep you from facing penalties AND won’t increase your taxable income! Donating your RMD directly to charity creates a Qualified Charitable Contribution (QCD). This QCD meets the RMD requirements and excludes this amount from your taxable income. Each taxpayer may donate up to $100,000 and anyone age 70.5 or older may contribute a QCD.

To qualify as a QCD, you must send your gift directly to a nonprofit; if you take the distribution and then give it to charity, the income will still be considered taxable income.

ECF can accept your charitable donation from your IRA on behalf of your parish and other Diocese of Atlanta ministries. ECF will distribute your gift to your parish and to ministries in our Diocese that you are passionate about. Gifts also support our grantmaking fund which helps Episcopal parishes serve people experiencing poverty and oppression. To make a gift, please submit your completed IRA Charitable Rollover Gift Form to both ECF and your IRA trustee. You can also reach out to our Executive Director to discuss how you can use this tax tool today!


Ellen G. Jones (she/her/hers) serves as an At-Large Member of the ECF Board of Directors and chair of our planned giving committee. Ellen joined the Habitat for Humanity Resource Development team in the fall of 2014 after serving 12 years in major and planned giving in higher education. She and her husband, Mitch, live in Atlanta and are presently seeking a new church home. They have two adult children, one grandchild, and a 4-legged child (who rules the nest). Learn more about the ECF Board of Directors.

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