Downs Law Firm, P.C.

Gifting to Charity

Getting the Best Results from Charity Giving

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End of the year is the busiest time for charities.

As the holidays near and the New Year approaches, people often think of charitable giving. Charities certainly do. There are ways to have your donations get the best results, according to the Lebanon Democrat in “A few thoughts on charitable giving, taxes.”

Here are a few ways that your generosity can maximize the benefit you and your charity of choice:

Bundle your itemized deductions, if possible. If you can time the payment of qualifying deductible expenses, including charitable donations, do so in alternate years. This increases the chances that you’ll be able to itemize your deductions. You may want to notify the charity that you are giving this year is a larger gift, because it will be covering a two-year period.

Select the right assets to contribute to a charity. For outright gifts made in your lifetime, consider using highly appreciated assets, like stocks. This will allow you to bypass owing capital gains taxes on the appreciation and claim the entire value of the assets, as a charitable contribution.

If you make a donation using this method to fund an income-returning gift or a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust, you delay the recognition of the capital gain. In most cases, you can pay this in smaller amounts, over a period of years.

What if you want to make a gift that also generates income? Use a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust. These gifts typically require significantly higher values, so you may be able to itemize in the year they are funded. However, only a portion of the contribution is deductible. That is because the donor receives income for life or for a certain amount of time. These gifts are usually funded with stock, cash or real estate.

Taxpayers who are 70½ years old or older and required to take minimum distributions from retirement accounts, may have distributions made directly from their account to a qualified charity. If this transaction is done properly, the amount of the distribution is not added to taxable income. You will not receive a charitable deduction using this method, but you can lower your taxable income for the year and give your charity of choice a much-needed donation.

Lastly, consider adding bequests and beneficiary designations in your end-of-life planning. Part of your legacy can include charitable gifts. There are a few ways to do this: designate a percentage of your estate to be donated to charity, specify a charitable organization as the full or partial beneficiary of a life insurance policy, an investment or bank account or any account that transfers by designation or leave a dollar amount or property to a charity.

An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and can include charitable giving.

Reference: Lebanon Democrat (Nov. 21, 2018) “A few thoughts on charitable giving, taxes”