Wednesday, November 11, 2015

End Of Year Giving ~ 7 Important Considerations

The holidays are fast approaching. With Thanksgiving and then Christmas only a few weeks away, many of us are looking for ways to celebrate the holiday season by giving gifts or donations to the people or organizations we care about the most. In addition to the warm feeling that comes from helping others, donating to charitable organizations offers its own financial rewards when tax season comes around. If you follow the Internal Revenue Service's rules on tax deductions, you may be able to deduct the money you donate to charities from your annual taxes. This week, the team at First Bank of the Lake is here to help you as you prepare to give.

3 Tips To Help Turn Your Donations Into Tax Savings:

#1. Itemizing Is Required
If you claim the standard deduction amount on your tax return, it won't matter how many charitable gifts you give. If you want to deduct your charitable donations, you must itemize your expenses on Schedule A. In most cases, however, there is no limit to how much you can deduct.

#2. Know The Tax Status
Before donating, research the charity of your choice to ensure that it is a tax-exempt organization. Only contributions to IRS-qualified charities (that is, those with 501(c)(3) status) are deductible. Any reputable organization will be happy to provide you with proof of their 501(c)(3) status, so don't be afraid to ask your chosen charity about their tax status. 

#3. Timing Is Everything
Donations must be made by the end of the tax year for which you want to claim the deduction. For example, if you date and mail a check to a charity on December 31st, 2015, it will be counted towards your 2015 taxes. Regardless of when they are received, mailed donations must be postmarked before the end of the year in order to count for that year. The same applies to donations made via credit card; as long as the transaction is dated before the end of the year, it does not matter that you might not pay your credit card bill until the following month.

4 Tips To Help You Select Your Charity:

#1. Give To Reputable Groups You Know
Donating to an organization you have volunteered for is almost always a safe bet. If you are familiar with the organization (and especially if you are passionate about their cause), you will be able to donate to them with confidence. Being reluctant to give to strangers is natural; you should never feel obligated to give to groups without carefully researching them first.

#2. Let The Internet Help
There are a handful of websites that provide in-depth information about charities to help donors research how their money will be spent. Here are a few sites you may wish to explore:
While religious organizations are typically not required to disclose how they spend donated money, many of them still choose to reveal this information. Check if you want to find this type of information.

#3. Narrow Your Focus
Rather than spreading your donation around between ten or more different charities, many experts advise donating what you can to one or two organizations, as this will have a greater impact. Choose a cause that is important to you personally and research related charities. Keep in mind that you can switch it up ever year, or every few months, depending on what your budget allows.

#4. Protect Yourself
Unfortunately, there are many scam artists who will take advantage of this season of giving by trying to steal your money or (even worse) your identity. Often times, fake organizations will have names that are very similar to those of reputable organizations, so you'll want to make sure you're donating to the correct organization. Also, we strongly recommend that you never give money or credit card information in response to a phone call, email, or door-to-door solicitation. Being proactive about where your money goes can help ensure that it will end up in the right place.

Happy Giving From First Bank!

On behalf of everyone at our local bank at the Lake of the Ozarks, we hope you and your families enjoy a truly wonderful season of giving and spending time with the people who mean the most to you. If you are in need of banking services in Osage Beach or any of the surrounding areas, we hope you'll keep us in mind! We would be honored to help you protect your capital and increase your financial success.

First Bank of the Lake - Striving For Excellence
Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Located at the entrance to the Osage Beach Premium Outlets!
4558 Osage Beach Parkway
Suite 100
Osage Beach, MO 65065

(573) 348-2265

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