The IRA-to-charity strategy is particularly helpful for people who have accumulated a lot of money in their IRAs but don't need the money to live on -- and would have to pay a big tax bill when they take their required withdrawals.
Not having enough retirement income from your IRA can be a pretty serious problem. On the other hand, having too much retirement income outside of the IRA can be a bit of a problem, too. Have you heard of the Charitable IRA Rollover?
A Charitable IRA Rollover lets you give to your favorite charity while avoiding taxes on IRA distributions. Consequently, this is a very popular win-win strategy for taxpayers who would rather be "voluntary philanthropists" as opposed to "involuntary philanthropists."
A recent Kiplinger article titled "Who Can Transfer IRA Funds to Charity?" explains the ins and outs of Charitable IRA Rollovers. Essentially, not everyone has the option to transfer their IRA distributions directly to charity. For starters you must be older than age 70-1/2, the same age upon which you are required to take Required Minimum Distributions from your IRA. And not by coincidence.
Read the original article for a better perspective on the politics behind the planning. Suffice it to say Congress has elected to give you a choice between taxation and charitable giving. The Charitable IRA Rollover gives you this option.
Beware! All of this must be done According to Hoyle or you may get caught in a tax trap. Nevertheless, this alternative is well worth considering as part of your overall retirement, estate and charitable planning.