Giving away money should be easy, but even a casual giver knows it’s not always as easy as it seems. Certainly, writing checks to support your favorite causes isn’t difficult, but when tax season rolls around and the piles of charitable tax receipts become unwieldy, all that good you did during the past year might make your head spin.
Add to that the complexities that come with life’s transition phases—perhaps you’re selling a business, you received an inheritance or you’re nearing retirement. Including charitable giving in your financial plans at these stages might make sense, but ensuring your gifts receive the full tax benefits can be challenging.
Simplify Your Giving With a Charitable Giving Account
One of the easiest ways to avoid the headache is to organize your giving through a charitable giving account, also known as a donor-advised fund. Most of us have separate accounts for money we want to use for specific purposes—checking accounts, 401(k) retirement accounts and 529 college savings accounts—so it’s natural we would have a separate account for our charitable giving as well.
A charitable giving account is an attractive alternative to a private foundation, offering more flexibility, confidentiality and maximum tax benefits. They are quick and easy to establish as well as inexpensive to maintain. You can donate cash, stock or other hard-to-value assets, such as real estate, closely held business interests or life insurance policies. Because the account is administered by a public charity, your gift into the account is tax deductible, but you can take your time deciding where and when to give your charitable dollars. There’s no distribution requirement, so you can grant as little or as much as you wish. You also can leave a legacy of generosity by naming successors who can advise the account after your lifetime.
Grow Your Charitable Dollars
The money in the account is invested, allowing the charitable dollars to grow tax-free over time. As an added bonus, those who choose to establish accounts at the Community Foundation of Howard County can elect to have their trusted financial advisors manage the assets.
By choosing to work with your local community foundation, you are connected with a mission-based organization that understands the needs of the Howard County community and can help you become a more educated giver. Giving wisely can be difficult, but it is extremely satisfying work. Effective and meaningful giving does not require great wealth or enormous funding initiatives – just thoughtfulness and planning.
For more information on establishing a charitable giving account, talk to your financial advisor, or contact Debbie Daskaloff at the Community Foundation of Howard County or call 410-730-7840.