CFP Board tips to help Americans give wisely and save on taxes
Many Americans rush to make charitable donations at the end of the year. In their haste, some fail to recognize keys to making the most of their donations: vetting the charities and tax planning.
Americans are among the most generous individual givers in the world and are expected to break records again this year with their giving, especially given the big surge in the S&P 500 this year. However, there are scam artists and fake charities, and Americans need to be careful to avoid them.
Charitable giving reached an all-time high of $390.05 billion last year, according to Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016. The rise was spurred largely by
individual giving and 2017 is likely to break last year’s record. Charitable donations are tied to stock market performance, and the S&P 500 is up nearly 25 percent in 2017, through mid-
Americans in a rush to take advantage of 2017 deductions could make a costly mistake.
In the latest contribution to LetsMakeaPlan.org, CFP Board offers this checklist for wise giving:
Step 1: Confirm the charity is legitimate by searching the IRS’s tool, Exempt Organizations Select Check. Cross-reference by asking the organization for its employee identification number, and then searching the same database for it.
Step 2: Research the charity’s financial health. The Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, GuideStar and Charity Navigator offer guidance on how charities spend money. Many Americans want to understand what portion of a donation goes to overhead, versus the cause itself.
Step 3: Determine how to donate. Options include donations of goods, checks, wire transfers and credit card payments. Americans can also donate appreciated securities and receive a tax
deduction equivalent to the current value of a stock, or make donations directly from their IRAs, though some rules apply to the last case.
Step 4: Keep good records. For any donation valued at $250 or more, the IRS requires a bank record, payroll deduction or written communication identifying the organization, the date and amount of the contribution and a description of the property.
A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help Americans avoid making costly mistakes with their charitable donations.
ABOUT CFP BOARD
The mission of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. is to benefit the public by granting the CFP ® certification and upholding it as the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. The Board of Directors, in furthering CFP Board’s mission, acts on behalf of the public, CFP ® professionals and other stakeholders. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP ® , Certified Financial Planner™, CFP ® (with plaque design) and CFP ® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes nearly 800,000 individuals to
use these marks in the U.S.
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