Tithing: How To Increase the Tax Efficiency of Giving

Sean Sevey |

In a world where financial planning and philanthropy intersect, savvy individuals are increasingly turning to innovative methods to make their charitable contributions more tax efficient. Two such powerful tools are Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) and Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). By incorporating these strategies into your philanthropic endeavors, you not only support meaningful causes but also optimize your tax situation.

Qualified Charitable Distributions:

Qualified Charitable Distributions, commonly known as QCDs, offer a unique opportunity for individuals aged 70½ or older to make tax-free charitable contributions directly from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). The IRS allows individuals to donate up to $100,000 annually from their IRAs to qualified charities without counting it as taxable income.

This presents a win-win situation for retirees. By directing a portion of their required minimum distributions (RMDs) to charitable causes, they fulfill their philanthropic goals while potentially reducing their taxable income. This strategy is especially advantageous for those who may not need the entirety of their RMDs for personal expenses, allowing them to make a meaningful impact on charitable organizations without incurring additional tax liabilities.

Donor Advised Funds:

Donor Advised Funds, or DAFs, are another effective tool for tax-efficient tithing. With a DAF, individuals can contribute assets – such as cash, stocks, or real estate – to a dedicated account. While the contribution to the DAF is tax-deductible in the year it is made, donors can then recommend grants to their preferred charities over time.

The flexibility of DAFs allows donors to strategically time their contributions, maximizing the tax benefits. By contributing appreciated securities, for instance, donors can avoid capital gains taxes on the appreciated value while still receiving a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the assets.

Tax Efficiency in Tithing:

Combining QCDs and DAFs can result in a powerful tax-efficient tithing strategy. Retirees can use QCDs to fulfill their charitable intentions with pre-tax dollars, reducing their overall taxable income. Simultaneously, establishing a DAF provides the opportunity to contribute assets that may appreciate over time, allowing for a more substantial impact on charitable causes while optimizing tax deductions.

Moreover, DAFs offer the flexibility to involve family members in the charitable decision-making process. This not only fosters a culture of giving within the family but also allows for a collaborative approach to philanthropy.


In a world where financial planning and philanthropy intersect, individuals seeking to be more strategic can benefit from exploring innovative tools like Qualified Charitable Distributions and Donor Advised Funds. By strategically leveraging these tax-efficient methods for tithing, individuals can maximize their impact on charitable causes while optimizing their overall financial plan. As we navigate the complexities of taxation and wealth management, integrating these philanthropic strategies offers a path toward a more intentional, purpose-driven approach to giving.

Wondering how to implement this in your wealth plan? At Sevey Wealth, we have a strategy for this... let me know!