IRAs and qualified retirement plans
Retirement plan assets are a major source of wealth for many households. For example, you may have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in your IRA, 401(k), 403(b), or other qualified retirement plan. These plans do not pay tax on the income they earn. This allows their assets to grow faster than if you held and invested these assets yourself.
The primary purpose of your retirement plan is to provide you with income during your retirement, but it can also be an excellent source of funds for making charitable gifts when your plan ends.
Taxes on remaining retirement assets can be very high
Your family members and other heirs will have to pay income tax on any distributions they receive from your retirement plan after you are gone. In addition, if your estate is large enough to owe estate tax, it will also pay estate tax on these distributions.
Federal income tax alone can be 39.6%. When you add federal income tax and estate tax together, they can total 64% or more. In states that assess their own taxes on estates, the total taxes on retirement plan assets paid to heirs can be over 64%.
Give retirement plan assets to the American Red Cross and save taxes
In contrast to your retirement plan assets, most other assets in your estate will not be subject to income tax on top of estate tax. As a result, your estate and heirs will pay lower taxes if you pass these other assets to your heirs, and give your retirement plan assets to charity. Paying lower taxes will mean that more assets will reach your heirs. How much more will depend on the size of your estate, where you live, and the type of gift you make, but your savings will typically be tens of thousands of dollars on a $100,000 gift.
How do I pass retirement plan assets to the Red Cross?
You have several good options for passing your retirement plan assets to us.
The simplest and most common way to give retirement plan assets to is to make our organization a designated beneficiary of your retirement plan. All you need to do is to tell the administrator of your retirement plan to designate our organization as a beneficiary of your plan and name the percentage of your remaining assets that you want us to receive. The retirement plan assets that you designate for us will avoid all income tax and estate tax. In order for your estate to enjoy both of these tax benefits, it is very important that you make our organization the designated beneficiary of these retirement plan assets, not your estate. Please identify us on the form with our legal name: American Red Cross
Life income plan
Another option for passing retirement plan assets to the Red Cross is through a life income plan. Passing assets to us through a life income plan allows you to provide income to your loved ones after you are gone and then provide support to us. Such a plan strikes a balance between leaving all of your retirement plan assets to loved ones and paying maximum taxes and leaving all of these assets to us and eliminating taxes on them altogether. Here's how a life income plan works:
- Your retirement plan transfers the designated portion of its final balance to the life income plan.
- The heirs you have chosen receive payments from the plan each year, typically for life.
- When the life income plan ends, its remaining principal goes to support the American Red Cross.
Using retirement plan assets to fund a life income plan postpones income tax and reduces estate tax on these assets. A typical result is to reduce total taxes on your retirement assets by more than half compared to distributing them to your heirs through your estate.
Life income plan options
There are several life income plan options to choose from. The one that is right for you will depend on a variety of factors. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about funding a life income plan with assets from your retirement plan.
Jake Henderson, 75, is a retired business executive who has accumulated $500,000 in the retirement plan that he set up through his company years ago. He takes minimum distributions from his plan in order to preserve as much tax-free growth inside the plan as he can. At this rate, he expects that his account may still be worth $500,000 when he dies.
Jake has reached the time in his life when he has begun thinking about the legacies he wants to leave behind after he is gone. He decides to leave a bequest to the American Red Cross to create an endowed fund that will perpetuate generous support in his name. To accomplish his goals, he designates 40% of the final balance in his retirement account for the American Red Cross.
- There will be no income tax or estate tax on the $200,000 of Jake's retirement plan assets that are transferred to the Red Cross. If Jake were to pass the same amount to his family and make his charitable gift with stock instead, his family would owe income tax of $79,200 (39.6% bracket) on the IRA assets, leaving only about $120,800 for their own use.* There would be even greater tax savings if Jake's estate was large enough to pay estate tax.
- Jake has the immediate satisfaction of knowing that he has put a gift plan in place that will support the American Red Cross long into the future.
*Tax Rate for Illustration Purposes Only – Your Rate May Differ. Consult your personal advisor for Tax Advice.