A New Way to Give (and Avoid the Tax Man)

Sara and Bruce Brandaleone

Sara Brandaleone T’65 is a long-time supporter of the Duke University Libraries and member of the Libraries Advisory Board. She is retired from the investment business and lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Bruce. They have two children, both Duke grads, Christopher T’03 and Jennifer T’07.

This year, the Brandaleones took advantage of a new law that allows them to make charitable gifts to the Duke University Libraries by rolling over funds from their individual retirement accounts. In December 2010, President Obama signed the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, which reinstated the charitable IRA rollover through 2011.

Donors who use this giving method can transfer up to $100,000 each year from their IRA to qualified charitable organizations, like Duke University, without increasing their gross income for the year and without ever paying taxes on the money.

We recently caught up with Sara to find out more about the IRA giving provision, how it works, and why you don’t have to be an investment guru like her to use it.

Q. Why do you support Duke University Libraries?

A. I have always loved books and reading. That has been a constant throughout my life. Naturally, I have always loved libraries. I can still remember when I was deemed old enough by my parents to walk to our public library in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, by myself. That was a big day for me! I think it’s important to preserve the written word, whether it comes in a book, e-book, or any other form. There’s also just something about walking into a library that gives me a good feeling.

Q. Why was the option of making a gift from your IRA attractive?

A. We got a card in the mail from my husband’s alma mater, Princeton, notifying us about the giving option, which is still not widely known. When I looked into it, I found out that it was very easy to do. The best things about it are 1) it’s easy, and 2) you avoid paying income tax on the money you withdraw. You can give money straight from your IRA. It never comes into income and you don’t have to take the extra steps to claim a deduction. In fact, many people may come out ahead on their taxes.

Q. How difficult was the process?

A. It was super-easy. There’s a form that you have to fill out anytime you withdraw funds from your IRA, and there’s a box on that form that you check. One check and you’re done. It’s as easy as giving stock outright. It only took as long as filling out a form, and the distribution was made the next day.

Q. Would you do it again, or encourage others to give through an IRA?

A. Most IRAs involve a minimum distribution. If you make a gift this way, it counts toward that minimum distribution. It simplifies life and lets you do good in the way you want to do it! If this option is still available in the future, we will definitely consider doing it again.


Nitty-Gritty on the Charitable IRA Rollover

Things to remember

  • You must be at least 70½ years old at the time of your gift.
  • You need to make your gift by December 31, 2011. The date of your gift is the date that your check from an IRA account is postmarked, not the date that you send transfer instructions to your IRA administrator.
  • You can contribute a maximum of $100,000 from your IRA each year through the rollover.
  • Gifts must be made directly from an IRA administrator to Duke University Libraries.

How to do it

  • Request an IRA disbursement form from your IRA administrator.
  • Check the box indicating that you want to contribute to a nonprofit.
  • Return the form to your IRA administrator and let us know your gift is coming.
  • It’s that easy!

Why to do it

  • Donors pay no federal taxes on the IRA withdrawal, and the gift decreases your taxable estate.
  • The withdrawal counts towards your required minimum distribution.
  • You will avoid taxes and may even save money, and if that isn’t enough…
  • You can support a cause that is important to you.


Contact Duke’s Office of Gift Planning


See also:

Watch a video about making a charitable IRA rollover to Duke: Unwrapping Gifts: The Charitable IRA Rollover