July 30, 2021

Investing with Faith / Stephen Keucher

Qualified charitable distributions from IRAs can be gifts to Church

Stephen KeucherMy wife Diane and I have been contributors to the annual United Catholic Appeal since we were just starting our family. We may not have given much back then, but we thought that we should contribute to the larger Church, the body of Christ, of which our parish was a small part. We wanted to help with the Church’s wider mission beyond our own backyard.

I think our motivation came from how we were raised and what we have learned of Jesus’ teachings. We were raised in the precepts of the Church, including that we should tithe on our income. On top of this, it seems that God loves a cheerful giver! As kids growing up, it seemed more than unfair to require the gift and then be asked to be happy about it. (But please keep reading.)

We heard and read many times the lessons Christ taught:

“Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:34-36).

The parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19-31), although focused on the larger story of the Son of God, tells the compelling story of a person of means who ignores the plight of the poor, and sadly ends up in eternal torment.

How could this picture be clearer? Diane and I have resources; others do not; we should share our resources with them.

But wait: A wonderful thing happened along the way. The stern message that much is expected of us to avoid eternal punishment was replaced by a realization that it’s when we give that we get back. Instead of duty, we found ourselves giving out of joy. We noticed that while we gave, we felt good doing God’s work, and at the same time, the blessings we received increased!

Now, this far into a blessed life, Diane and I have reached the magic age of 70 at which we may make charitable contributions to qualified charities from our IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts). The distributions are called qualified charitable distributions (QCDs).

At age 72, we must take distributions, either for us or as QCDs. It’s not difficult to arrange with the institution that administers a person’s IRA to do so.  Changes in tax law mean that anyone 70 or older may make a qualified charitable distribution from his or her IRA; all of us age 72 or older must take minimum distributions from our IRAs.

Why not voluntarily make a gift to the annual United Catholic Appeal at age 70 and 71, and then take some of the mandatory distribution after age 71 for our Church? The pre­tax money our employers and we set aside can go to charity without being taxed.

My wife and I sit at a table that does not lack food. We want to be sure that Lazarus does not sit outside the gates in his sores and hunger.

If you have questions regarding qualified charitable distributions or other planned giving options, Catholic Community Foundation staff members would be happy to assist you. Contact ccf@archindy.org.

(Stephen Keucher is a member of St. Charles Borromeo in Bloomington. Tax or legal information provided herein is not intended as tax or legal advice. Always consult with your legal, tax and financial advisors before implementing a gift plan.) †

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