Your Guide to Year-End Charitable Giving
Whatever your reason for giving this year, it’s important to know how your charitable contributions can impact your financial plan. In fact, being strategic and intentional with your charitable contributions can create tax benefits for both you and your chosen charity.
Research Charitable Organizations
Maximize the impact your monetary donation can have by selecting reputable and transparent organizations. A qualified charity will have 501(c)(3) status, indicating it’s federally recognized as a non-profit organization.
Third-party websites like Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Give Well offer unbiased, independent ratings and evaluations of charitable organizations. These sites can offer important insights into how donated money is distributed. If you’re considering making a sizeable donation, it may be helpful to speak directly with the chosen charity to discuss how the gift will be utilized.
If you haven’t already, check with your employer about what opportunities they provide in regard to charitable giving. For example, some employers will match employee donations to certain organizations.
Consider Itemizing Your Deductions
To deduct charitable donations, you must itemize them on an IRS Schedule A form.1 To do this, you’ll need to keep track throughout the year of each donation made to a charitable organization. In most cases, the charity can provide you with a form to document your contribution. If the charity does not have such a form handy (and some do not), you may be able to use other forms of proof including:
- Credit or debit card statements
- Bank statements
- Canceled checks
When reporting deductions, the IRS may want to know a few important details such as the name of the charity, the gifted amount and the date of your gift.
Remember, itemized deductions may only have tax benefits when they exceed the standard income tax deduction, so be sure to check on the standard deduction amount for your tax filing status.
Make Non-Cash Donations
Many charities welcome non-cash donations. In fact, donating an appreciated asset can be a tax-savvy move.
For example, you may wish to consider gifting highly appreciated securities. Since selling securities can lead to a taxable event, it may be wiser to transfer appreciated securities directly to your charity of choice.
This transfer can accomplish three things:2
- You can manage paying the tax you would normally pay upon selling the shares.
- You may be able to take a current-year tax deduction for the full fair market value of the shares.
- The charity gets the full value of the shares, not their after-tax net value.
Utilize Your Life Insurance Policy
Do you have a life insurance policy? If you make an irrevocable gift of that policy to a qualified charity, you can get a current-year income tax deduction. If you keep paying the policy premiums, each payment may become a deductible charitable donation - although deduction limits may apply.3
If you continue to pay premiums after the gift, that could reduce the size of your taxable estate. The death benefit may be transferred out of your taxable estate, in any case.
You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments. Several factors will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications.
Whatever your situation, getting advice from a tax or financial professional can help you give wisely as the year comes to a close. If charitable giving is an important part of your financial plan, it’s important to make sure you’re getting the most value out of each donation.
As always, let us know if you have any questions.
CRA Investment Committee
Matt Reynolds CPA, CFP®
Tom Reynolds, CPA
Robert T. Martin, CFA, CFP®
Gordon Shearer Jr., CFP®
Jeff Hilliard, CFP®, CRPC®
Joe McCaffrey, CFP®
Important Disclosure Information
Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by CRA Financial, LLC [“CRA]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this commentary will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this commentary serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from CRA. Please remember to contact CRA, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. Unless, and until, you notify us, in writing, to the contrary, we shall continue to provide services as we do currently. CRA is neither a law firm, nor a certified public accounting firm, and no portion of the commentary content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of CRA’s current written Disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request or at www.crafinancial.com. Please Note: If you are a CRA client, please advise us if you have not been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.
Historical performance results for investment indices, benchmarks, and/or categories have been provided for general informational/comparison purposes only, and generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deduction of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results. It should not be assumed that your CRA account holdings correspond directly to any comparative indices or categories. Please Also Note: (1) performance results do not reflect the impact of taxes; (2) comparative benchmarks/indices may be more or less volatile than your CRA accounts; and, (3) a description of each comparative benchmark/index is available upon request.
Please Note: Limitations: Neither rankings and/or recognitions by unaffiliated rating services, publications, media, or other organizations, nor the achievement of any professional designation, certification, degree, or license, or any amount of prior experience or success, should be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if CRA is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Rankings published by magazines, and others, generally base their selections exclusively on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized adviser. Rankings are generally limited to participating advisers (to the extent applicable). Unless expressly indicated to the contrary, CRA did not pay a fee to be included on any such ranking. No ranking or recognition should be construed as a current or past endorsement of CRA by any of its clients. ANY QUESTIONS: CRA’s Chief Compliance Officer remains available to address any questions regarding rankings and/or recognitions, including the criteria used for any reflected ranking.