Supporting charities that are important to you is often part of a comprehensive financial plan. The tax benefits associated with charitable giving could potentially enhance your ability to give and should be considered as part of your tax planning.
As part of our financial planning process, our clients receive advice on how to best approach charitable giving in a way that aligns their personal preferences and maximizes the tax benefits. To learn more, contact one of our advisors today.
Create a Donor-Advised Fund
One way to boost and simplify your charitable giving is to create a donor-advised fund. You can set up an account with one of our custodians and contribute cash, securities or appreciated assets. You’ll be eligible for a current year tax deduction and can be more strategic about your giving decisions. And you can contribute to the account at any time, not just at the end of the year. The account also keeps track of your contributions and grants online and then generates an annual report for your tax return.
The big advantage to a donor-advised fund is that it separates the tax planning aspect of charitable giving and deductions from the actual giving. Typically donors make an emotional decision based on charities pulling in heart strings toward the end of the year. Recent tax law changes made it compelling to bunch contributions in one year and a donor-advised fund allows you to do that without rushing to figure out who to give the money to. See here for more information.
Tax deduction for charitable gifts
If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can generally deduct your gifts to qualified charities. This may also help you potentially increase your gift.
Example: Assume you are considering making a charitable gift of $1,000. One way to potentially enhance the gift might be if you increase it by the amount of any income taxes you save with the charitable deduction for the gift. With a 24% tax rate, you might be able to give $1,316 to charity [$1,000 ÷ (1 – 24%) = $1,316; $1,316 x 24% = $316 taxes saved]. On the other hand, with a 32% tax rate, you might be able to give $1,471 to charity [$1,000 ÷ (1 – 32%) = $1,471; $1,471 x 32% = $471 taxes saved].
However, keep in mind that the amount of your deduction may be limited to certain percentages of your adjusted gross income (AGI). For example, your deduction for gifts of cash to public charities is generally limited to 60% of your AGI for the year, and other gifts to charity are typically limited to 30% or 20% of your AGI. Charitable deductions that exceed the AGI limits may generally be carried over and deducted over the next five years, subject to the income percentage limits in those years.
Make sure you retain proper substantiation of your charitable contribution. In order to claim a charitable deduction for any contribution of cash, a check, or other monetary gift, you must maintain a record of such contributions through a bank record (such as a cancelled check, a bank or credit union statement, or a credit card statement) or a written communication (such as a receipt or letter) from the charity showing the name of the charity, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution. If you claim a charitable deduction for any contribution of $250 or more, you must substantiate the contribution with a contemporaneous written acknowledgment of the contribution from the charity. If you make any noncash contributions, there are additional requirements.
Year-end tax planning
When making charitable gifts at the end of a year, you should consider them as part of your year-end tax planning. Typically, you have a certain amount of control over the timing of income and expenses. You generally want to time your recognition of income so that it will be taxed at the lowest rate possible, and time your deductible expenses so they can be claimed in years when you are in a higher tax bracket.
For example, if you expect that you will be in a higher tax bracket next year, it may make sense to wait and make the charitable contribution in January so that you can take the deduction next year when the deduction results in a greater tax benefit. Or you might shift the charitable contribution, along with other deductions, into a year when your itemized deductions would be greater than the standard deduction amount. And if the income percentage limits above are a concern in one year, you might consider ways to shift income into that year or shift deductions out of that year, so that a larger charitable deduction is available for that year. A tax professional can help you evaluate your individual tax situation.
A word of caution
Be sure to deal with recognized charities and be wary of charities with similar-sounding names. It is common for scam artists to impersonate charities using bogus websites and through contact involving email, phone calls, social media, and in-person solicitations. Check out the charity on the IRS website, irs.gov, using the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. And don’t send cash; contribute by check or credit card.
*Past performance is not an indicator of future results. This material is not financial advice or an offer to sell any product. The statements contained herein are solely based upon the opinions of Elevage Partners, LLC (“Elevage”). Elevage is a registered investment adviser. More information about the firm can be found in its Form ADV Part 2, which may be requested by calling (877) 922-8243 or visiting http://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. The information contained herein is derived from sources we believe to be reliable, but which we have not independently verified. Elevage assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions in this information. Elevage reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs. The information provided in this report should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security. There is no assurance that any securities discussed herein will remain in an account’s portfolio at the time you receive. It should not be assumed that any of the securities transactions, holdings or sectors discussed were, or will prove to be profitable, or that the investment recommendations or decisions Elevage makes in the future will be profitable or will equal the investment performance of the securities discussed herein.ELV-17-02