Maximize your giving impact by:
* Determining if the causes you want to support are qualified charities---the IRS Website (www.irs.gov/charities/index.html) can tell you if they are “qualified” 501(c)(3) organizations (NOTE: churches are qualified charitable organizations but don’t have to register with the IRS).
* Determining if the causes will be a good steward of your gift---talk to the organization’s leadership; check out website databases that report on the activities and finances of charities such as http://www.give.org/ (Better Business Bureau’s database on charities that solicit nationally with links to local BBB sites); www2.guidestar.org; and http://www.charitynavigator.org/.
Maximize your tax savings by:
* Giving appreciated assets (stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares, or real estate) rather than cash---the after-tax cost of your gift will be lower than the same size cash gift when you consider both the income tax savings and the capital gains savings you may realize from using the appreciated asset to make your gift.
* Selling depreciated long-term capital gain assets and giving the cash sale proceeds---you’ll get a charitable income tax deduction if you itemize and a deduction for the capital loss.
* Establishing a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). DAF’s allow you to make your gift in a year when the deduction can save taxes, but defer the decision about what causes will benefit from your gift until later years.
* Increasing your gifts to charity in years in which you will have the most income---the amount of income tax savings depends on your tax bracket; the higher your tax bracket, the more tax savings from charitable gifts if you can itemize deductions.
*Maximize your income by:
* Setting up a “life income” gift such as a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust. Life income gifts provide an opportunity to set up an irrevocable future gift for charity with the potential to increase current cash flow to you and/or others for life or a term of years. Not only may your cash flow increase, you’ll have tax savings from the deduction of the value of the charity’s interest in the year you set up the life income gift, if you itemize deductions.
The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.