GIVE

Tax-wise Charitable Giving


Tax-Wise Giving

“There are a lot of new data that show if you’re generous, and charitable and altruistic, you’ll live longer; you’ll feel more fulfilled; you’ll feel more expressive of who you are as a person; you probably will feel more control and freedom in your life.”

The US Tax rules allow individuals not to pay or significantly reduce their income taxes by giving to a recognized 501 c 3 charitable organization during life or upon death. Many times the dollar amount given is not the same as your out of pocket cost because of our tax laws. In addition, there are special tools such as Charitable Gift Annuities (CGA) and Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT) and others that provide income, income tax deduction, or deferral of capital gains tax. Tax-wise giving is a very important, but often overlooked, part of financial and estate planning.

These types of gifts require the assistance of a knowledgeable professional and may serve your other objectives. For example, you wish to honor a friend who has helped you during your life – you can give your friend a CGA (income for the rest of your friends life) and when the friend is deceased whatever is left goes to charity. It is the two gifts in one approach – to the friend and the mission of the charity.

If you are inclined to give to charities but are property rich and cash poor, you may want to consider a Charitable Reverse Mortgage (CRM).

Many charities will give you a CGA in return for receiving your property at death. Or you need to provide for a heir who does not know how to handle money, a CRT allows for income to the heir and they do not have the ability to spend the principal. Most financial advisors, attorneys and CPAs are not familiar with these tools.

It is important to explain your goal and objectives to a knowledgeable professional. Many professionals do not have sufficient knowledge in the charitable area and advice their clients not to do it. Saying no is the safe and easy route to go. The best scenario from a tax perspective is to have a low cost basis and a high market value asset. Most major charitable organization have an individual on staff who can give you at no charge or obligation a computer generated educational illustration showing your likely income, tax deduction and explanation.

“We know from longitudinal research that people who give through charity 14 hours a week or so — they live longer. Their life expectancy actually gets a dramatic boost through acts of charity. So, you put this story together: charity gives you happiness; it takes you out of that stress modality and your nervous system towards more optimal functioning, and then it gives you longevity.” Dacher Keltner

Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., is the founding faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life and a co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness.

 

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