Year End Charitable Giving
With the holiday season upon us and the end of the year approaching, we pause to give thanks for our blessings and the people in our lives. It is also a time when charitable giving often comes to mind. The tax benefits associated with charitable giving could potentially enhance your ability to give and should be considered as part of your year-end tax planning.
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 giving by also donating your tax savings.
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].
When you give, 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. Most importantly, unless you're a business owner, you want to make sure you will be using itemized deductions and not the standard deduction on your tax return. The new, higher standard deduction exceeds the itemized deduction for many taxpayers. It's a good idea to do a tax projection to figure out which deduction would save the most on your tax return. You want to make sure your charitable contributions will actually reduce your income tax.
If you expect that you will be better off using the standard deduction this year then it may make sense to wait and make your charitable contributions in January so that you can combine them with your annual contributions next year and potentially inflate your itemized deductions to the point where they will exceed the standard deduction next year and result in a greater tax benefit.
A tax professional can help with planning for 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 only.
To learn more or for help with your year end tax planning, contact MNM Vested, LLC.