By timing your charitable gifts before Dec. 31, you will see a tax break for that year if you itemize deductions on your income tax return. Here are several strategies for resourceful year-end giving.
Write a check: We always appreciate gifts we can put to immediate use.
Charge your credit card: A fast and easy way to make year-end gifts is simply to give online and make an outright gift with your credit card.
Contribute appreciated securities that you have held for more than one year: You can claim deductions for their full fair market values and avoid any tax on their appreciation.
Prepay a pledge: Either the entire amount or an upcoming installment.
Invest in a life income plan that provides you with payments for the rest of your life and ultimately benefits the charitable organization. If you use long-term appreciated securities to fund the plan, you will be entitled to an income tax deduction based on the charitable portion of the securities’ full value, in addition to avoiding capital gains taxes on that portion.
Give collectibles, artwork and other tangible personal property: If we use the property in a way related to our tax-exempt function, you will receive a tax deduction for the fair market value. Donate an insurance policy. A life insurance policy you no longer need makes a perfect year-end gift. To qualify as a gift, the charitable organization must become the owner of the policy.
Be Aware of Gift Dates
The gift date, or the date used for tax purposes, is the day you relinquish control of the asset. Depending on the asset used for the gift or your method of giving, certain rules govern the gift date.
Checks: The postmark date is the date of the gift, assuming the check is mailed, or the date the check is hand delivered.
Credit cards: The day the charge is authorized is considered the gift date.
Pledges: Pledges are deductible in the year they are fulfilled, not in the year they are made.
Securities: If the securities are electronically transferred to the charitable organization, the gift date is the day the securities enter the organization’s account. For hand-delivered securities, the day they are received by the charitable organization or its broker is the date of the gift. To mail securities, it is important to send, by registered or certified mail, the unsigned certificates in a separate envelope from the signed stock power and letter of intent. The gift date is the postmarked date of the later of the two mailed envelopes. Stock market fluctuations after the date of delivery will not affect your charitable deduction.
Real estate: The gift date is the day the organization receives the signed deed if hand delivered, otherwise the postmark is the date of the gift if the deed is mailed. If your state law requires recording of the deed to fulfill the title, then the date of recording is the gift date.