Giving stems from the desire in your heart.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with many charitably minded clients. Through their wisdom and what I have learned from my own walk, I have discovered that giving should be an intentional process. Over the years I have seen several times where the use of financial planning tools in the process of gifting has opened the door for more charitable impact and gratification.
Know that giving money to charities and churches really shouldn’t be for tax purposes. As they say, “the tax tail shouldn’t wag the dog”. Yes, it’s nice to get a tax-deductible benefit for the gifts you make, but the purpose of giving shouldn’t be solely for tax purposes.
For those who have been blessed with much, giving is one way to empower others to be blessed.
A couple of truths about giving:
Giving regularly breaks the power of money in our lives.
Giving regularly and helping charities and churches plan for programs and ministries.
Giving is a way to serve others.
Giving helps gain more satisfaction in life.
The IRS does offer tax deductions where you are able to offset income. Though I am not giving tax advice, I do want to make sure we are aware of the tools and strategies we can build into a financial plan to both give more and have more of an effective impact on our tax burdens.
Strategies to consider when giving:
- Deduct it: The amount of your charitable giving is listed on your Schedule A (lines 11-14) if you are itemizing your deductions. If you took the standard deduction in 2021, there is an allowed $300 ($600 if MFJ) for gifts of cash to certain qualifying charities. It’s a best practice to use receipts and pictures as evidence of tax-deductible gifts.
- Bunch it:If your charitable giving does not quite put you over the standard deduction limit, consider the "Lump & Clump" of a few years of giving all in one year. That can effectively maximize your gift deductions in one year and allow the standard deduction to cover the remaining.
- Give stocks, Real Estate, and other investments increased in value:If you sell a stock held directly in your name, you could trigger a taxable event. Do you know what kind of organization doesn’t have to pay long-term capital gains tax? Charities. Gifting investments in-kind to charity allows you to avoid recognizing the capital gain while making a gift of the full value of the investment. There are some different AGI limitations for non-cash gifts, but this still may be a massive benefit to both you and the charity.
- QCD it (for RMDs): The Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) may be considered for those at least 70.5 years old where you may be able to give directly from an IRA to charity. A huge benefit here is you can avoid the IRA withdrawal from hitting your 1040 or your Medicare IRMAA limits! (note, a few rules do apply here, so coordination is required)
- Pairing Charitable Gifts with Roth Conversions: A strategy some clients have considered is to find additional gifting which lowers taxable income while also triggering a Roth conversion. If this is coordinated with a tax professional, you might be able to find tax-friendly ways to increase your tax-free bucket of income.
- Deduct, Give, and get back with a CLAT: The Charitable Lead Annuity Trust (CLAT) is a unique giving strategy where you have a special trust set up that designates a charity(ies), gives a tail every year based on an IRS schedule (say, 15 years), and whatever is left over at the end of the term comes BACK TO YOU. This is a way to give a large sum today, set up a predictable gift over time, and if there is growth in the trust some of the original gift amount comes back as if it never went into the trust. This is a uniquely useful tool for some families. We do need to have our trust services in the network involved, but the process has the potential to be very fruitful for you and the charity.
- Setting up a Donor Advised Fund (DAF): DAFs are a very popular way to give. A DAF allows you to make a gift to a charity and immediately have the deduction while giving you time to delay the actual delivery of the gift to the charity. When my office helps coordinate Donor Advised Funds, you may be allowed to gift funds now, allow the assets to be invested, and give from those assets plus the potential growth over time. I think so highly of this giving tool and its flexibility that I will circle back around soon and provide you with information on this resource at a separate time.
It all comes back to the heart. Giving, when done generously and not with an ulterior motive (under compulsion) helps us to grow as people.
Resources for giving:
As a helpful resource, I am attaching here a checklist you can use to implement charitable giving strategies. The list is organized by:
- Philanthropic motivations and goals
- Cash flow considerations
- Asset selection when funding gifts
- Charitable giving vehicles
- Tax planning and deductibility
We all know I am a financial planner, not a CPA. This email is for education purposes. Don't use it as tax advice. I know some really good tax advisors and can connect you with one if you like.