“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” - Winston Churchill
As a follow up to last month’s blog on end-of-year planning, here are a couple of ideas for giving, with an eye on what must be done by year-end in order to claim them on your taxes for 2017.
Qualified retirement plan contributions are one of these tasks. If you as an employee contribute to a retirement plan at work, in most cases you have until the end of the year to increase or maximize these contributions if you have not already done so.
The other key task to complete before the end of the year is any charitable giving. For gifts to be deductible for 2017, they must be made before January 1, 2018. Be sure to keep any receipts, and any gift over $250 must have a bank record or acknowledgement in order to be deductible.
If your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is greater than $311,300 (married filing jointly), you may be wondering if giving to charity still makes sense in light of the fact your itemized deductions are phased out. Charitable deductions are one of the couple of itemized deductions that are not phased out due to a higher income level, so give on!
Finally, if you are 70½ or older and required to take minimum distributions from your IRAs (and if you don’t need this mandatory withdrawal), you may want to consider gifting it directly to a charity. Doing so will satisfy your requirement, avoid this money being included your taxable income, and help out a worthy organization. Win. Win. Win. This is particularly helpful for those who do not itemize their taxes, and also helps lower adjusted gross income which can affect Medicare Part B premiums and Social Security taxes. The gift must be made directly to the charity. If the money is withdrawn from the IRA first, then later gifted to charity, the money will be included in your AGI but you can take the charitable deduction if deductions are itemized. Maximum total is $100,000 each year. If you have check-writing on your IRA, confirm with your custodian that they will allow a check to be written to a charity. If not, most custodians have a form.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.