So amid all the holiday cards and parties, and the double-checking of your naughty/nice lists, here are a couple of ideas you might post on the fridge where you'll see them each time you top off your eggnog.
Even though your bank balance may also be stressed out these days, most organizations will let you use plastic to make your contributions. That way, you can get your deduction this year and take until MLK Day (OK Easter) to pay off the charge. You'll probably also earn points you can use for your next trip to Bermuda (OK Foxwoods).
If your investments have done well this year (if they haven't, you may want to put "interview new advisor" on your New Year resolutions list), you can toss a few shares of one of your big winners to a deserving organization, and you'll get credit (and a deduction) for the full current value without having to pay a nickel of capital gains tax on all the appreciation.
Even if you don't have financial resources to spare, you can thin out your closet and donate all those things you got last year and haven't worn, then take a deduction for their reasonable value. Believe me, I see lots of people every day who could use your outgrown winter coat or the ones your kids would no longer be caught dead wearing. Just consult the NH Charitable Foundation's website for how to document those contributions and ensure the write-offs.
Finally, how often do we feel like we have to come up with a little something for people who really don't need anything at all from us - maybe our in-laws or the party hosts who already have enough banana bread? Instead, why not make a contribution to an organization you know they value? They won't have to re-gift what you give them and they'll probably be impressed that you took the time to give the situation some real thought.
There are lots of other ideas, too - like a $2 weekly payroll deduction to the United Way - but if you're considering more upscale concepts like donor-advised funds, charitable gift annuities or remainder trusts, let me know. I can help with those, too. These ideas are just the low-hanging fruit of generosity. The key consideration is that no gift is too little to small, struggling organizations that depend on each and every dollar they receive. Just make sure you think about that before you have an epiphany on New Year's Day and have to wait another year for the deduction.
Posted 12/05/2014 - Tax Planning