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How to Make a Tax-Free Distribution from Your Individual Retirement Account

Spring 2020

For those who are 70 ½ or older, an amount, not to exceed $100,000 in a calendar year, can be distributed tax-free from your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to Stanford or your other favorite public charities. This amount can count toward your required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year in which the distribution is made*. Although these distributions are not deductible as charitable contributions on your income tax return, they may lower your taxes because they are not treated as taxable income to you.

Here’s How a Qualified Charitable Distribution Works:

  • You must be 70 ½ or older at the time of distribution.
  • You may distribute an amount, not to exceed $100,000 in a calendar year, to one or more public charities, as long it is completed by December 31 of the year in which you intend to make the charitable distribution. The amount of the distribution will be reduced by any deductible contributions made to an IRA on or after you reach 70 ½.
  • Your IRA administrator must make the distribution directly to the charity, or you may write a check payable to the charity from your IRA checkbook (special rules apply when a check is written from an IRA checkbook, please contact the Stanford Office of Planned Giving for more information). For a sample letter of instruction to your IRA administrator requesting a distribution to Stanford, click here.
  • If you make a gift to Stanford from your IRA, please include written instructions on how you would like to designate your gift. You can also call 866.543.0243 or email with your gift designation.

Certain restrictions and requirements** must be followed when making this type of gift. If you have questions, please call the Office of Planned Giving at Stanford at 650.725.4358 or 800.227.8977, ext. 54358, or email Before proceeding, you should also consult with your tax advisor to discuss your particular situation including any impact of your state’s tax laws.

* Please note: under the CARES Act, required minimum distributions are waived in 2020.

** For example, the following transfers will not qualify: distributions to private foundations, to donor advised funds, for life income gifts (e.g., charitable remainder trusts), and for any purpose that entitles you to receive a benefit, such as preferred seating at athletic events or tickets to a dinner.

Gifts may be sent to:

Stanford University
Development Services
P.O. Box 20466
Stanford, CA 94309-0466

For further information, please contact:

Office of Planned Giving, Stanford University
Tel: 650.725.4358 or 800.227.8977, ext. 54358 (toll-free; United States only)

Stanford University’s federal tax identification number is 94-1156365