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Your 2021 Guide to Year-End Charitable Giving Thumbnail

Your 2021 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 in your 2021 contributions can create tax benefits for both you and your chosen charity.

Here’s how.

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 money donated 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 regards 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. 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:

  • Receipts
  • 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 explore a gift of highly appreciated securities. Selling securities can lead to a taxable event. As an alternative, you or a financial professional can write a letter of instruction to a bank or brokerage, which can facilitate authorizing a transfer of shares to a charity.

This transfer can accomplish three things:

  • 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 A Donor-Advised Fund

A DAF allows people to give a portion of their money, assets , or property to charity in order to receive a tax deduction immediately. However, the donor isn't required to decide on their charity at the time of donation. Instead, the account is managed by a nonprofit institution or an eligible charitable organization to satisfy IRS requirements. This organization will typically charge a fee to account holders in exchange for managing funds and processing charitable grant requests.

When the assets are in the DAF, the individual holder has the option to invest in various portfolios or funds that may grow the investment over time.  As a result, the DAF may allow the donor to give even more to charity. Some people will use a DAF in lieu of setting up a trust for a particular organization while others will front-load their account to give themselves enough time to grow their assets. Typically, individuals will set up a DAF during a high-income year in order to reduce the tax due on their income and support preferred charities over time.

For more information on Donor-Advised funds, read Using a Donor-Advised Fund for Making Charitable Contributions, or click here here for a downloadable guide.

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.

This is not a recommendation and is not intended to be taken as a recommendation. This material was prepared for general distribution and is not directed to a specific individual.

LPWM LLC does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisers.