Time For Stewardship

With recent news almost totally focused on the 2018 hurricane season and catfights between Democrats and Republicans, we’d like to share a bit of good news about the state of charitable giving and remind our friends that we are barreling toward another tax season.

laboratoryRegardless of our political distractions, we’re still a generous, big-hearted country when it comes to individual giving. It seems that we as a country are on track for a slightly higher percentage increase in 2018 than last year—a banner year for charitable giving. As individuals, we give about 70% of all charitable donations in the U.S. with the balance coming from estates, foundations, and corporations.

The passage of tax reform legislation could change the landscape of charitable giving for some households, but the majority of our clients have benefited from a booming stock market and are enthusiastic about exploring meaningful charitable giving opportunities.

Donor-Advised Funds, where donors receive an immediate tax benefit and can make suggestions about where the money goes, is the #1 rising trend. Now is the time to get in touch with us about adding to, or participating in, donor-advised funds for this tax year.

As always, let the real meaning of “stewardship” remain the driving force for your charity and reason for giving.

Are Charities in Trouble?

Retirees are consistently charitable. They are the largest group of Americans supporting the many non-profits and charities that rely donations for survival. So what happens now that the new Tax Overhaul Bill is a reality?

Retirees that used to itemize deductions used their property taxes, perhaps state income taxes, and their charitable contributions to reduce their taxable income. Now, there are two fixed levels: $12,000 for individuals; $24,000 for married couples. So the question for charities now is, will the benefit of those charitable contributions disappear? Maybe not.

It’s nothing new, but the strategic method for those 70-1/2 and older to reduce taxable income by giving their entire RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) directly to charity is still a good one. But now, you might want to give twice as much every other year if that results in an amount to write off that is larger than the standard deduction.

Let’s say you are retired but not yet 70-1/2. You don’t have a Required Minimum Distribution, but you may want to take a distribution (earmarked for a charity) in order to avoid being in a higher tax bracket. It’s a painless way to give to charity or support the causes and missions that you care about so deeply.

For certain income levels, you might want to consider a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). These funds—sort of like personal private foundations, without all the legal and accounting costs—allow contributors to donate money and take a tax deduction in the same year, then pay the money to selected charities over time. There are interesting advantages for a DAF. If you missed the 2017 cut-off, you might want to have a conversation with us to see whether either RMD or DAF plan could be to your (and your charity’s) advantage going forward.

Call us for free, no-obligation consultation or refer us to a friend you know who may need our expertise and experience.

Don’t Give to Charity, Grant to Charity

thank-you basketMost Americans are generous. We support our churches and step up to the plate during times of natural disasters. We give to United Way at work, donate goods and cash to the Salvation Army, and many respond to televised pleas for support especially when it involved children or pets. Americans have big hearts, and giving makes us feel good. It also allows for a break on our tax return!

But do you give strategically? Have you taken the time to think through how you can best help the causes you care most about? Giving strategically means “giving with goals in mind”—a way to support a charity, or several charities, that you love.

A Donor-Advised Fund (DAF) is a charitable account that acts as a charitable savings account. You make an initial deposit that is immediately tax-deductible, then use it to make grants out to qualified 501(c)(3) charities when you wish. The magic of grants is that you can specify how you want your money to be used by the charity.

You may be able to give more than you think! You can fund your DAF account with cash; that’s better than having it taxed. Yet you can increase your giving by putting to work your non-cash assets like stocks, real estate, IRAs, whole life insurance policies, art collections, and other tangible personal property. You keep your assets in the family, and allow their value to help others during your lifetime!

There are legitimate reasons to keep your giving private. We find that some business owners with staunch moral convictions prefer to keep information about which charities they support private. Unlike giving from a private foundation, a DAF allows them to increase their giving capacity at a fraction of the cost, without all the legal, tax and regulatory burdens, and never having detailed tax records made public.

If a strategic giving plan sounds interesting and solves some organizational, administrative, or privacy issues for you, call me today at (614) 800-7985 or reply to this email. And please, share this blog from Stewardship Foundation with someone you know. Together, we can make the world a better place.