Maximizing Charitable Donations Under the New Tax Law

December 28, 2017

Many people will no longer be able to itemize under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which means that charitable donations won’t be as valuable from a tax perspective.

Here are some ways to maximize your charitable giving and still receive some tax benefit:

1. Accelerate your 2018 donations into 2017. By doubling up on your dontions before year end, you will increase your deductions for the 2017 tax year. If you will have itemized deductions close to the standard deduction in future years, consider doubling up on your donations every 2-3 years; this may boost your itemized deductions enough to get you over the standard deduction amount.

2. For taxpayers age 70 1/2 or older, you can contribute directly from your IRA to a qualified charity. Donations made directly from your IRA to a qualified charity are deducted directly from your taxable income, giving you the tax benefit even if you don’t itemize your deductions.

3. Consider using a donor-advised fund. With a donor advised fund, you can contribute cash or appreciated investments to an account, take the deduction on your taxes, and distribute the donations to charities at a later date or over multiple years. This can be helpful if you want the tax deduction now, but don’t know who you want to donate to or if you want to be able to spread the donations out. Donor advised funds are available from brokers such as Vanguard, Schwab and Fidelity and usually have a minimum of $5,000-25,000.

The deadline to make donations for the 2017 tax year is December 31, 2017.

Kristine McKinley is a Kansas City CFP and CPA.  Kristine provides retirement planning, tax preparation and planning, investment reviews and comprehensive financial planning on a fee-only, as needed basis.  To schedule your complimentary introduction meeting, please contact Kristine at

Say Goodbye to 2008 with Some Smart Tax Moves

December 1, 2008

December’s a busy month with holiday preparations, but it’s not too late to focus on last-minute tax savings. Consult with your tax professional to see if these might work for you:

Do an AMT sweep: One of the reasons why it’s wise to consult a tax adviser before you start accelerating deductions is that certain people over $75,000 find themselves more susceptible to the alternative minimum tax if they proceed. The AMT is an alternative taxation process that’s figured separately from your regular tax liability and you have to pay whichever tax is higher. State and local income taxes and property taxes, for example, are not deductible when figuring the AMT. Under the regular rules, medical expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income can be deducted under the regular rules, but under the AMT, that threshold is 10 percent. Also, under regular rules, interest on up to $100,000 of home-equity loan debt is deductible no matter how the money is used, but under the AMT, the deduction holds only if the money was used to buy or improve a primary or second home. It pays to check your AMT risk before you execute any end-of-the-year tax-savings strategy.

Check investment gains and losses: After the market drops we’ve seen this year, it’s likely you have some capital losses in your taxable investment accounts.  It might make sense to sell and offset them against any capital gains you’ve realized this year. Such losses can offset 100 percent of capital gains plus up to another $3,000 in ordinary income. Any losses in excess of that number can be carried forward to the next tax year.  Note: According to a lot of mutual funds are expected to distribute capital gains to shareholders, despite funds being down 30-40%.  Check your mutual funds to see if you are expected to receive a capital gain distribution; if so, it might make sense to do some tax loss selling before the December distribution to avoid another taxable event.

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Get Your Charitable Donations Lined Up Before The Holidays

December 1, 2008

There’s a special sinking feeling as you approach Dec. 31 and realize you’ve done no tax planning whatsoever. That includes big issues like end-of-the-year investment decisions, and the smaller ones – like that stuff you no longer use piling up in the basement.

Charitable giving is an important part of tax planning at year-end, so let’s look at the cash and noncash aspects of giving. It makes sense to contact a tax expert or financial planner to talk about what giving makes sense for you:

You have to itemize: Only individual taxpayers who itemize their deductions on Schedule A can claim a deduction for charitable contributions. This deduction is not available to people who choose the standard deduction, including anyone who files a short form (1040A or 1040EZ).  However, there has been talk about allowing “above the line” charitable deductions, so I’m hopeful that this tax law will change soon.

Get out the checkbook: Uncle Sam likes a record. To deduct any charitable donation of money, a taxpayer must have a bank record or a written communication from the charity showing the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution – and it definitely helps to have both. Bank records mean canceled checks, bank or credit union statements and credit card statements. Bank or credit union statements should show the name of the charity and the date and amount paid. Credit card statements should show the name of the charity and the transaction posting date. For payroll deductions, the taxpayer should retain a pay stub, Form W-2 wage statement or other document furnished by the employer showing the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity. If you remember the IRS being satisfied with personal bank registers or scribbled notes to document the donation, they’re not anymore.

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Beacon Financial Advisors, LLC, is a fee-only financial planning and Registered Investment Advisory firm headquartered in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and serving the greater Kansas City area.

The firm offers comprehensive financial planning services. Beacon advisors work solely for their clients. Click here to learn more about our services.

About Us

Kristine McKinley, CFP®, CPA, is the founding principal of Beacon Financial Advisors, LLC, an independent, fee-only financial planning firm located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and serving the greater Kansas City area.

Kristine focuses on providing fee-only financial planning, investment advice, and tax preparation to individuals and families from all income levels.  About Us

In the News

Investment News – Kristine McKinley discusses the 0% Social Security COLA (for 2016) in No Social Security cost-of-living adjustment in 2016.

Kiplinger Magazine/NAPFA – Kristine McKinley answered reader’s tax questions during the 2013 Jump Start Your Retirement Plan Days sponsored by Kiplinger magazine and the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation.