Year-end charitable giving could reduce your 2015 taxes

Although Give to the Max Day is one of Minnesota’s most charitable days each year, the last two days of each calendar year are generally the busiest days for online giving nationwide, as people take a look at the opportunity to make the most of their year-end tax situation.

Should you consider “year-end giving?” Any day is a great day to give, but we’ve put together a short Q&A list to help you decide whether to make a gift by the end of 2015…and how a free account on GiveMN.org will keep you from searching for paper receipts!

How could year-end charitable giving help my tax situation?
At the end of the year, tax filers have a clearer picture of their individual tax situations. If you are near the cutoff between tax brackets, charitable gifts may help you lessen your tax burden for when you file in early 2016. Additionally, with the amount saved in owed taxes, you can stretch your dollar farther to help your favorite cause!

Who stands to benefit the most from year-end giving?
Only individuals who itemize their tax deductions will receive the extra benefits of donating before the end of the year.

What type of organizations should I donate to in order to qualify for charitable giving?
All certified 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible to receive tax-exempt donations. In addition, most churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies are considered de facto eligible to receive tax-exempt donations. All organizations listed on GiveMN.org are eligible.

How may I make a donation?
You may make a cash, check, or credit card donation. Just make sure you receive a receipt. By using GiveMN.org, you can search tens of thousands of Minnesota nonprofits and schools by keyword or location and make an immediate donation using your credit card and receive an immediate email receipt. 

What are the benefits of using GiveMN.org for making my donation?
GiveMN.org is Minnesota’s front door for charitable giving! You’ll find thousands of eligible nonprofits and schools when you search by keyword or location. Upon making your donation, you will receive an immediate email receipt. Better yet, we’ll provide one report detailing all of your charitable giving for the previous year early in 2016. You support your favorite cause, and we handle all of the boring financial stuff!

Simply create a free account on GiveMN.org to track your giving.

What is the deadline for charitable gifts to count for my 2015 taxes?
Donations using credit cards must be transacted on or before December 31, regardless of when the credit card bill is paid. If you decide to mail a check, it must be placed in the mail in 2015.

Are there limits as to how much I can give?
There are some limits to charitable giving tax benefits, but they are pretty high. Read the IRS guidelines. 

What types of records do I need to keep? You will need to keep some sort of documentation issued from the organization displaying the name of the charity, date of contribution, and amount of contribution. This typically comes in a receipt either mailed or emailed to you from the organization. By using GiveMN, you receive an email receipt immediately. Additionally, by creating an account, you can download a report of all of your charitable giving on GiveMN.org near the beginning of 2016.

What about gifting stock?
Gifting appreciated stock is one of the most effective means of tax savings available. According to RBC Wealth Management First Vice President and Financial Advisor Darla Kashian, the benefits are threefold:

  1. The satisfaction of knowing your money is invested in a cause important to you.
  2. Capital gains taxes on the stock are avoided.
  3. You will be eligible to receive an income tax charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the stock at the time of the gift.

Kashian reminds that to qualify for these special tax advantages, the security must have been held for at least one year.

What else should I consider for charitable stock gifting?
Kashian provides more information on other benefits of gifting stock: “While you might think that only people who itemize their taxes will benefit from year-end stock gifting, it’s worthwhile to consider a stock gift if you have a concentrated position in a stock as a way of reducing that concentration.  It is also a way to potentially make a larger gift by thinking of the cost of the stock as the dollar amount of your gift, rather than the current value.  For example, if you’re planning to gift $1000 in cash, you might stock that has a cost basis of $1,000.  But truly, it is the clients, members, and beneficiaries of your cherished charities who will benefit most from your generosity.”

If you would like to make a charitable gift to count as part of your 2015 tax returns, remember to make the gift by midnight on Thursday, Dec. 31! Want to make a quick gift to a Minnesota organization or learn more about worthy causes in your community? Visit GiveMN.org to search by keyword or location, find an organization or school (or more!) you believe in, and make a gift in seconds!

Read more IRS tips for year-end giving.

Show off your best Minnesota Nice with the GiveMN State Fair Photo Contest!

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It’s time again for The Great Minnesota Get-Together! For the 151st year, Minnesotans will be coming together for food, fun and to celebrate all corners of our state.

While you’re at the Fair, you can visit exhibits for all things Minnesotan except for one of our top exports—Minnesota nice. But this year, you can help us change that by documenting all the kind and generous things that happen on the Fairgrounds…and win some pretty cool prizes, to boot!

Here’re the deets.

Take photos of Minnesota nice in action while at the Fair.
Document all the kind, generous, giving moments that will warm our hearts (and car engines) all winter long. Maybe it’s a selfie with friends and family, or catching a stranger sharing his bucket of Sweet Martha’s Cookies. Snap one or take a few!

Post them to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Just use #MNStateFair and #MinnesotaNice and we’ll catch them! Enter a little caption so we know what happened…and just like that, you’re entered! (Bonus points if you tag GiveMN!)

Follow GiveMN to see Minnesota nice in action!
We’ll repost the best and send out GiveMN Selfie Sticks to our favorites.

After the fair, vote for your favorites!
On Tuesday, Sept. 8, we’ll post our finalists in an album on the GiveMN Facebook page. Like the pictures to vote for your favorites. The photos with the top three most likes on at noon on Friday, Sept. 11, will win Giving Cards to support their favorite nonprofit or school on GiveMN.org ($100 for 1st, $50 for 2nd, $30 for 3rd.)

So now it’s up to you! Help us crowdsource an online exhibit all about the power of Minnesota nice.