By Bennett Whitlock, CRPC® Private Wealth Advisor
People often scramble at year’s end to wrap up their charitable giving by Dec. 31. A little planning throughout the year can go a long way to avoid the last-minute rush. Here are five steps to make 2014 the year you get ahead of your charitable contributions:
1. Make a plan: Most of your charitable giving should meet specific goals. Take some time in the early months of the year to determine your giving priorities. You also may want to estimate your income for 2014 and set aside a percentage to donate.
2. Establish automatic plans: Check with your favored charities to see if an automatic plan is available so you can implement a regular giving strategy. Not only does this approach make it easier for you, it also helps the charity as they receive systematic donations throughout the year.
3. Explore potential employer-matching: Some employers provide matching donations (up to a certain amount) of your own contributions, multiplying your gift and impact.
4. Understand tax ramifications: Most charitable gifts can only be deducted if you itemize deductions. In 2014, the standard non-itemized deduction is $12,400 for married couples and $6,200 for a single tax filer. Those who don’t itemize deductions can still save by gifting appreciated assets to charity, which is particularly effective for people subject to an accelerated capital gains tax rate of 20 percent (the standard rate is either zero or 15 percent, depending on your tax bracket). Also consider the Pease Provision, a restriction on itemized deductions for those with adjusted gross incomes above $254,200 (single tax filers) and $305,050 (joint filers).
5. Consider the long term: Charitable giving isn’t a yearto- year strategy. As you get older, think about how you can effectively manage your estate, while also benefiting favorite causes. Vehicles such as Charitable Remainder Trusts can help you leave a legacy beyond your lifetime.
Bennett Whitlock, CRPC®, is a private wealth advisor and managing director with Whitlock Wealth Management, a franchise of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Learn more at WhitlockWealth.com or call 703-492-7732.