September 13, 2010
Authored by: Keith Kehrer
When charitable pledges come do, some donors scramble to find ways to satisfy the pledge without a negative impact to current cash flow. A donor’s use of a private foundation to satisfy the pledge is often unattractive since such a transfer could result in self-dealing to the extent the donor’s pledge is considered a legally binding obligation under applicable state law. However, a transfer from the donor’s IRA in satisfaction of the pledge may represent a viable alternative. In an Information Letter released August 20, 2010, to Harvey Dale (a well-known tax professor), the IRS concluded that a taxpayer who satisfies a pledge by making a qualified charitable distribution from his or her IRA directly to a charitable organization would not include the distribution in gross income (citing Rev. Rul. 55-410, which provides that the satisfaction of a pledge by means of a donation of appreciated or depreciated property does not give rise to a taxable gain or a deductible loss) – and of course, IRAs are not subject to the self-dealing rules imposed on private foundations. Therefore, the next time you are faced with a pending pledge and cash flow is tight, you may want to explore satisfaction of the pledge using your IRA.