It’s easy to lose track of time in the busy weeks of December. And this year, with coronavirus, we have more on our minds than ever – like how to be safe with our loved ones and still experience the holiday traditions we cherish. For many of us, supporting the nonprofits we believe in is one of our year-end traditions. If you plan your year-end charitable giving well, you’ll be able to help those in need, protect your charitable tax deduction and enjoy the holiday season.
Tips to make your charitable giving smooth:
Gifts of Cash/Checks
Mail is already slow due to the pandemic. Add in December holiday cards and packages and it has the potential to be even slower.
Checks mailed to nonprofits must be postmarked by Dec. 31, for the donor’s charitable deduction to count in 2020. The date of receipt will be reflected in your gift acknowledgment letter provided by the charitable organization (for gifts over $250). You might consider making your contribution online. Many nonprofits provide this option on their websites. Remember, there is a fee of 2-4% depending on the credit card company. Often, you can cover the fee, so the nonprofit doesn’t lose that amount of your gift. If you plan to donate a large sum, consider a wire transfer or overnight guarantee delivery service. Mailed envelopes must be postmarked by Dec. 31.
Gifts of Appreciated Securities
Stock and mutual fund gifts are popular given the strong performance of the financial markets this year despite the pandemic. When you gift long-term assets (stocks and mutual funds you have owned for at least one year and one day) to a nonprofit, you bypass the capital gain taxes, and the gift is sold by the nonprofit for the full fair market value. You benefit from a tax deduction for the full fair market value (depending on whether you itemize or not). Short-term capital assets, owned for less than a year, are deductible but only at cost-basis.
A stock gift is considered “received” by the nonprofit upon the completed transfer of the assets to the nonprofit (or their banking partner). This needs to happen by Dec. 31 for you to benefit from the charitable deduction in 2020. Smaller nonprofits may not be able to process stock gifts, so check ahead if you are thinking about doing this.
At OJCF, once stock gifts are received by First Republic Bank, the foundation’s banking and investment partner, the stock is sold immediately and the gift is valued as the mean of the high and low stock value for that day, per IRS regulations. This will be reflected in your gift acknowledgment letter provided by the foundation. You can gift stock to replenish an existing donor-advised fund, establish a new fund, and create a charitable trust or a charitable gift annuity. Plan ahead to initiate the asset transfer by Dec. 15.
OJCF accepts gifts of appreciated assets for the benefit of all our Jewish community partner organizations. If you’d like to do this, be sure to let us know of your intentions, and tell the organization, too. When the stock is sold, the gift amount will be placed in the partner organization’s fund according to your direction. We are proud and honored to be partners with 30 Jewish organizations in Oregon and SW Washington, including synagogues, day schools, social services organization, Jewish Federation and the “living room” of the community, Mittleman Jewish Community Center at the Schnitzer Family Campus.
IRA Rollover Gift
Although the required minimum distribution (RMD) is suspended temporarily because of the pandemic, you can still choose to distribute up to $100,000 of your IRA directly to a nonprofit. You must be 70 1/2 years or older and you won’t pay income tax on the transfer (however, there is no charitable deduction). Contact your IRA administer to arrange for the transfer by Nov. 30.
A $300 universal charitable deduction is now available if you take the standard deduction. This is a temporary change in tax law intended to encourage charitable giving by people who may be reluctant to give due to uncertainty about the economy and the virus.
With so many needs in our community, your devotion to tzedakah at any level will help others who are struggling. Let us know how we can help you support others facing hunger, housing needs, racial injustice, isolation, healthcare issues and so much more in these difficult and extraordinary times. Contact OJCF at 503-248-9328, or ojcf.org.
Julie Diamond is the President and CEO of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation. OJCF’s mission is to build and promote a culture of giving in Oregon and SW Washington that supports a thriving Jewish community now and for generations to come.