Donating in Kind Isn’t Always the Best Option

Giving makes you feel good, no matter what you give: time, money, or even a carton of junk from your garage. A wonderful method to give back is to make a monetary donation to a charity of your choice. It’s the simplest and most apparent way to donate to charity, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice. Make sure you’re aware of all of your alternatives before you pull out your wallet.

Cash donations through the bank have several drawbacks, such as the lack of a federal tax benefit for many individuals. So why is it so hard to get a refund from the IRS? Because the standard deduction was doubled in 2018 and other deductions were restricted. The 2021 deduction now ranges from $12,550 for a single filer under 65 to $27,800 for joint filers over 65, depending on how you file and your age. As a result, contributing cash to charity won’t save you any money in federal taxes if your total permitted deductions (including your charitable gift) are less than this amount. Until 2021, single taxpayers and joint filers may both deduct up to $300 in charitable donations and up to $600 in charitable contributions in addition to the standard deduction.

It’s excellent to know that there are ways to save money on taxes and give more money to a non-profit you care about.

Amounts Allowed for Charitable Use (QCD)

As soon as you reach the age of 72, you will be forced to begin withdrawing from your pre-tax retirement assets, such as IRAs and 401(k)s. Unless they are sent directly to a charity as a Qualified Charitable Distribution, these compulsory distributions are taxed as ordinary income (QCD). Even if you’re just donating a modest amount, this is a fantastic method for many individuals. With a direct gift from your IRA, you may avoid paying any taxes on the amount donated (up to $100,000 per year), regardless of whether your standard deduction or itemised deduction is higher. QCDs, as opposed to other charitable deductions, also lower your taxable income (AGI). If you’re able to lower your AGI, not only will you save money on your state and federal income taxes, but you’ll be better able to deduct medical expenses and may even be eligible for certain tax credits as well.

Contributions of Clustering

This strategy may be quite helpful if you contribute often and your itemised tax expenditures are near the maximum standard deduction. Donate $40,000 this year and nothing the next year if you normally give $20,000. Taking the standard deduction the year after donating $40,000 would enable you to itemise in that year and claim the deduction the next year. Clustering your philanthropic donations across many years may raise your overall deductions even if you itemise and your itemizations don’t surpass the standard deduction by the number of your charitable contributions. If you have an abnormally high income for one year from the sale of property, a company sale, a substantial bonus, or the vesting of employee shares, this technique is very effective. A cash gift this year might be especially advantageous for certain donors since the IRS has waived the typical 50% income deduction limit until 2021.

Special Fund Selected by Donors

If you’re a donor, you may be tempted to take advantage of the clustering method, but you may not be ready to make a final decision on which charity to support. A Donor Advised Fund may be suitable in this situation. In order to get a tax benefit for several years of donations, you may use these funds. Invested money may grow tax-free while waiting to be given.

The IRA’s designated funds.

Donor-Advised Funds are not authorised by the IRS. However, QCDs to Designated Funds are. In contrast to Donor Advised Funds, designated funds have pre-determined charity recipients; hence, they do not provide the ability to change the organisations at a later time. A tax deduction is available immediately, as well as a degree of control over when an organisation gets its contributions.

Assets That Have Been Appreciated

Donating appreciated assets without first selling them may be a terrific idea for anybody who has assets outside of eligible retirement plans. You may utilise this if you have a large stock portfolio and wish to lower your risk by selling some of it. In my opinion, the easiest way to illustrate the tax advantages is to provide a simple example.

  • A $10,000 investment in shares has been made by an Oregon couple. It’s worth $50,000 now, years later.
  • They would generate a taxable profit of $40,000 if sold. To sum it all up, the pair will owe $11,480 in taxes due to long-term capital gains taxes of 15%, net investment income tax of 3.8%, and 9.9 percent of state income tax. In this case, their gift and potential tax deduction are reduced to $38,520.
  • Instead of selling the stock and paying taxes on the proceeds, they may give it straight to charity, which results in a greater gift and a higher tax benefit for them.

Planned Parenthood

By selecting a charity as a beneficiary on an investment account or in your trust or will, you may easily include charitable giving into your estate strategy People who wish to make a lasting impression typically use this strategy. For those with a large taxable estate who need access to their assets now but don’t want to pay estate taxes, this is an excellent option.

It’s important to think about how assets are taxed depending on who receives them as part of your estate planning. Non-retirement accounts may be given a step-up in cost basis (essentially, tax-free investment profits) if they are handed to your heirs, while Roth IRAs are distributed tax-free. IRAs should be left to charity, whereas non-retirement accounts and Roths should be left to close family members and close friends.

Programs Administered by the State

You may double the effect of your donation to one of more than 1,400 Oregon non-profits by using The Oregon Cultural Trust, a resource that many of my fellow Oregonians fail to take advantage of. On their website,, you may find out which groups are eligible. For every $500 that you donate, you get a tax credit equal to the amount of your gift. Nonprofit cultural organisations in Oregon get a portion of the matching funds. Similar programmes may be available to residents of other states.

Gift Annuity for the Good of Others

A charitable gift annuity may be a useful alternative for those who need extra income. It is a win-win situation for both the organisation and you. The charity gets a long-term source of revenue, and you get an instant tax benefit.

Donor-Advised Funds.

A charitable trust or foundation may be an option if you want to leave a substantial bequest during your lifetime.

Because charitable trusts are irrevocable, any assets placed in them cannot be withdrawn for any other purpose than those specified in the trust. Benefits include receiving a tax break for donating valued property and avoiding capital gains on the sale. There are two primary categories. Remaining assets from a Charitable Remainder Trust go to the chosen charity at the conclusion of the term. In contrast, a Charitable Lead Trust is a different kind of trust. For a defined amount of time, a portion of the income goes to the charity, and then the remainder is returned to the donor or another designated recipient. A professional trustee and the assistance of an attorney are required for the creation of the trust. Therefore, this method is best suited for bigger contributions or those involving more complicated assets. The sooner you take action, the better if this seems like a good fit for you. The non-charitable element of the trust may be taxed, limiting the tax advantages of this sort of giving.


If you want your philanthropic activities to go on beyond your death, you might consider establishing a family foundation or a private foundation. Investments made with donated cash are tax-deferred. Because of this, you have the option of using your own family members to run the foundation. For the most part, foundations are only sought by wealthy families since they are heavily regulated and costly to operate.

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