Lockdowns, election politics, masks — we THOUGHT we might be done with these things by now … but nope. And I bet you’re tired of it all. Most Southern California people are, aside from the zealots on every side. And I get it.
That doesn’t mean these things aren’t important (they obviously are), but a certain level of numbness has set in, especially in areas where Thanksgiving and the holidays are being directly affected. (Hey, bright side: less chance of politics-driven fistfights when the table is smaller!)
It’s a good idea to take your internal temperature and do whatever you need to do to get to a place of focus. Many of our Orange County clients are under enormous pressure for one reason or another, and all of the media-fueled anxiety (from both directions) is NOT helping things.
As that old “going on a bear hunt” ditty says: Can’t go over, can’t go under it … gotta go through it.
But maybe you can ignore it. Unplug a little. Stay off social media. Only read important content (like THIS, naturally). Focus on your domain and build the financial and relationship fortress you need to carry you through whatever might come.
And another way to keep your mind clear (and not so focused inward) that I like to raise this time of year is giving.
But there are traps ahead, sitting alongside opportunities.
Oh — and I should mention again: most tax planning opportunities completely dry up after 12/31, so let’s talk if you think you could use some help…
David Barnes’ Tax-Wise Charitable Giving Strategies
“When you are kind to others, it not only changes you, it changes the world.” -Harold Kushner
In the midst of this cultural and economic insanity, one of the hardest-hit groups has been those who rely upon charitable donations. And right now, if you’re paying any attention (though I would remind you: see above, and don’t pay TOO close), you know that there are more people who need help right now than maybe any holiday season in recent memory.
It’s financially wise to make a habit of giving to charity. It’s not a mystical pay-it-forward thing; simply put, those who engage in this habit see the world as holding more possibility and themselves as having more power to effect change.
- You create for yourself a network of people and organizations who are grateful.
- When you take a moment to think about the beneficiaries of many of these organizations, you realize that your circumstances really aren’t as tough as you might think.
All that said, here’s how you can maximize the TAX benefits of said giving, here in 2020…
1) Stack donations. Because of the TCJA, the standard deduction is raised and there are new SALT restrictions (state and local taxes), and therefore more people use the higher standard deduction ($12,400 single, $24,800 married filing jointly, $18,650 head of household) — in which case, you lose the charitable tax deduction. So to solve this, “stack” your donations to have them all count during one taxable year.
It MIGHT be that that year should be 2021 for you — but I would notify your beneficiaries and make a plan for giving in January … just so you are a person of your word.
2) Investment donations — get an appraisal.
If you’ve held an investment for over a year that has appreciated, get that appraisal and take the donation for the current market value. For instance, if you have a stock you might sell, donate the stock itself at the current fair market value. You won’t pay as much tax, can take a better deduction, and the charity gets more.
3) Cash donations in 2020.
I mentioned this previously, but THIS YEAR ONLY (per the CARES Act), you can take the standard deduction, as well as up to $300 of cash donations. Has to be cash though, and it’s up to $300 per return, so if you file jointly, it’s only $300.
4) Remember what is (and isn’t) a deductible gift.
Whatever organization to which you’re giving has to be an IRS-recognized section 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Just to make sure, click on over to the IRS’s online “Tax Exempt Organization Search” tool to see if that group you like really is tax-exempt and can receive actually tax-deductible contributions. When you give a gift to somebody — say with Venmo or via GoFundMe’s that are intended for an individual or non-501(c)(3) group — that’s not deductible. (But if the target recipient *is* a 501(c)(3) you *can* deduct it.)
I firmly believe in the power of charitable giving, both for your tax return and (even more importantly) for your state-of-mind.
Stay focused out there.
For all of these things, we’re here to help. 714-541-4338
To your (extended) family’s lasting financial and emotional peace…
CRISIS Action Plan” for my Southern California tax clients and friends — which is still relevant today:
1) Don’t marinate in other people’s panic. Be mindful of your social media consumption.
2) Continue to stay financially and logistically prepared for worsening situations.
3) Make sure you have some ready, liquid assets, if you are able. (I.e., cash in the bank, and in hand.)
4) Set aside plans for any big spending until the dust settles — but especially look out for your small business owner friends and vendors.