By Merry H. Balson and Laurie A. Hunter
Return of the Charitable IRA Rollover Through 2013. The 2012 Tax Act extended the IRA charitable rollover rules through 2013. These rules were originally put in place in 2006, and had expired at the end of 2011. The charitable IRA rollover provisions allow individuals who are 70 ½ or older to transfer (or “rollover”) up to $100,000 per year from their IRAs to most charities on a “tax neutral” basis if the transfer is a “qualified charitable distribution” and satisfies certain rules. Qualified Charitable Distributions will not count as taxable income to the individual (as would usually be the case in any other distribution from an IRA) but no charitable income tax deduction is allowed for the contribution. Transfers must be directly from the IRA trustee to the charity to qualify. Additionally, transfers to private foundations, donor advised funds, supporting organizations or split-interest trusts (such as charitable remainder or charitable lead trusts) do not qualify for this special treatment. Because the charitable IRA rollover had expired in 2011 and has now been reinstated retroactively for 2012, taxpayers were also allowed to treat distributions from IRAs made after November 20, 2012 and before January 31, 2013 as a charitable IRA rollover for 2012, if that distribution is made in cash to charity before January 31, 2013. As a result, in 2013 taxpayers had an opportunity to give up to $200,000 to charity from their IRAs (with $100,000 treated as given in 2012) if they acted by the end of January.
Other Annual Extenders. The 2012 Tax Act also extended a number of credits and deductions that have been extended year by year for some time, and did not make them “permanent.” These include the American Opportunity Tax Credit, more favorable conservation easement rules, more favorable depreciation rules, the wind energy credit, and research and development credits.
Health Care Act Changes. Finally, changes taking place in 2013 include raising the medical expense deduction to 10% of adjusted gross income from 7.5%, and the new 3.8% surtax on net investment income for single taxpayers with $200,000 “modified” adjusted gross income and $250,000 for married filing jointly.
The 2012 Tax Act is replete with references to permanence. While that might provide comfort to some, keep in mind that the provisions of the 2012 Tax Act are only truly permanent until Congress and the President decide to change them. Until then, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that sunset never came to pass, and for the first time in decades advise our clients about the tax implications of their gifts during life and at death with some measure of certainty.