Giving money to charities is a holiday custom, but cash is not the only way to help out the less fortunate, says LSU AgCenter family economics professor Dr. Jeanette Tucker. Charitable organizations gladly may accept other types of contributions.
The family economist offers several alternatives:
• Donate appreciated stock that you have owned for at least one year. You can avoid paying capital gains tax and sales fees, and the charity will net more money.
• Donate your used car. Estimate the car’s value by checking the Kelley Blue Book at www.kbb.com. Be sure to obtain a written estimate of the car’s value and take photos of the car in case you get audited.
• Give your frequent flier miles and similar perks from credit cards and other rebate programs to charity. Check the rules about when points must be cashed in and when awards must be used. You will not obtain a tax break for these gifts, but the charity will appreciate your contribution.
• Consider using your credit card to make charitable contributions if you do not have the cash. You get the deduction now, but will not be billed for at least a month. If you carry a balance on your credit card, however, the finance charges may offset your tax break.
• Volunteer at a charitable organization. Although you cannot deduct the cost of your time, you can deduct your travel and parking expenses, as well as out-of-pocket expenses for any supplies you provide.
• Instill the joy of giving in your children or grandchildren. Encourage them to pick out a toy for a needy child.
• Make charitable donations now, and you will be happier on next April 15 when you deduct your contribution from your income taxes.
On the lighter side, Tucker offers these holiday giving truisms:
• Giving to charity won’t cause you to gain weight or raise your cholesterol. The same cannot be said about holiday cookies.
• Giving to charity doesn’t require you to fight for a parking space. The same cannot be said about shopping at the mall.
• Giving to charity won’t leave you with a hangover or cause you to make a fool of yourself at the office party. The same cannot be said about eggnog.
• By giving to charity you know your gift will be the right size and color.
• Giving to charity will relieve stress. It will feel good to accomplish at least one of the things you need to do for the holidays.
• By giving to charity now you won’t have to worry about finding the money after you have finished your holiday shopping.
For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/
Inst/Extension/Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/
On the Internet: Kelley Blue Book: http://www.kbb.com
Source: Jeanette Tucker (225) 578-1425, or Jtucker@agcenter.lsu.edu