It’s a good idea to take your internal temperature and do whatever you need to do to get to a place of focus, amidst all of the national and global distractions that continue ad infinitum. Many of our Sarasota clients are under enormous pressure for one reason or another, and all of the media-fueled anxiety (from both directions) is NOT helping things.
As that old “going on a bear hunt” ditty says: Can’t go over, can’t go under it … gotta go through it.
But maybe you can ignore it. Unplug a little. Stay off social media. Only read important content (like THIS, naturally). Focus on your domain and build the financial and relationship fortress you need to carry you through whatever might come.
And another way to keep your mind clear (and not so focused inward) that I like to raise this time of year is charitable giving.
But there are traps ahead, sitting alongside opportunities.
Tax-Wise Charitable Giving Strategies From WesTax, Inc
“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.” -Harold Kushner
In the midst of cultural and economic insanity of the last several years, one of the hardest-hit Sarasota groups has been those who rely upon charitable donations.
It’s financially wise to make a habit of giving to charity. It’s not a mystical pay-it-forward thing; simply put, those who engage in this habit see the world as holding more possibility and themselves as having more power to effect change.
- You create for yourself a network of people and organizations who are grateful.
- When you take a moment to think about the beneficiaries of many of these organizations, you realize that your circumstances really aren’t as tough as you might think.
All that said, here’s how you can maximize the TAX benefits of said charitable giving.
1) Stack donations.
Because of the TCJA, the standard deduction is raised and there are new SALT restrictions (state and local taxes), and therefore more people use the higher standard deduction ($12,400 single, $24,800 married filing jointly, $18,650 head of household) — in which case, you lose the charitable tax deduction. So to solve this, “stack” your donations to have them all count during one taxable year.
2) Investment donations — get an appraisal.
If you’ve held an investment for over a year that has appreciated, get that appraisal and take the donation for the current market value. For instance, if you have a stock you might sell, donate the stock itself at the current fair market value. You won’t pay as much tax, can take a better deduction, and the charity gets more.
3) Remember what is (and isn’t) a deductible gift.
Whatever organization (whether it’s one of the many Sarasota charities or those further away) to which you’re giving has to be an IRS-recognized section 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Just to make sure, click on over to the IRS’s online “Tax Exempt Organization Search” tool to see if that group you like really is tax-exempt and can receive actually tax-deductible contributions. When you give a gift to somebody — say with Venmo or via GoFundMe’s that are intended for an individual or non-501(c)(3) group — that’s not deductible. (But if the target recipient *is* a 501(c)(3) you *can* deduct it.)
I firmly believe in the power of charitable giving, both for your tax return and (even more importantly) for your state of mind.
Stay focused out there.
For all of these things, we’re here to help.
Maurie West, CPA