If you are 70 and a half or older, you are required to take annual minimum distributions from any IRA accounts you may have. By directing a portion of that minimum distribution DIRECTLY to charity, you can avoid being taxed on that part of your distribution. Amounts gifted in this way also help to lessen the possibility that your Social Security benefits will be taxed.
To qualify for this type of preferential tax treatment, the gift must move directly from your IRA to the charity. Pay outs made to you and then donated by you to charity are ineligible. Maximum gifts made under this provision are $100,000 annually. Even if you do not itemize, this powerful option can reduce your taxes!