As a happy holiday coincidence, the giving season comes at the end of the year, when people are also putting a bow on their finances for tax purposes. Now, don’t get us wrong. The purpose of giving is not to get a tax break. If that’s your goal, you’re doing it wrong, and for the wrong reasons.

But giving thoughtfully maximizes the impact of your gift, allows you to be more generous, and gives you piece of mind that your dollars are going to the right place.

Giving to the right charity

Nobody thinks twice about putting a dollar in the Salvation Army bucket, but when it comes to larger gifts, it pays to be selective. Use sites like Charity Navigator to verify that your money is going to the cause you support, as opposed to overhead.

Learn the ins and outs of your charity and make sure they are aligned with your ideals and will be in the future. Consider selecting one charity, and giving to it consistently, as opposed to spreading around your giving. This allows you to be more intimately involved.

Different types of giving

Knowing how your gift fits within your budget will help you give more comfortably and more generously. Factor giving into your holiday budget. If you can’t give a gift this year, put it in your budget for next year.

If a monetary gift isn’t in your budget, consider giving of your time. This is a great way to help organizations and build relationships. It also gives you (socially distanced) face time with the charity you are supporting.

With the stock market near all-time highs, you might also consider giving appreciated assets. If you donate an appreciated stock or property, you can still write off the fair market value of the asset and avoid paying capital gains taxes on the asset. You will want to make sure you gift the asset itself, as opposed to selling and donating the proceeds, which will require you to pay capital gains taxes.

Giving to Loved Ones

You might be considering giving a gift to your loved ones that goes beyond the typical holiday presents. If so, there are some important considerations here as well.

It is important to keep tax considerations in mind concerning a larger gift. You may give a gift of $15,000 per year to as many individuals as you like without reporting it to the IRS. Note that you can give a separate gift to an individual and to their partner. If you plan on providing a $60,000 down payment for a home, you can give $15,000 to your child and their partner now, and $15,000 each after the first of the year.

As part of your estate tax planning, you might consider a living trust. This allows you to remove taxes from your taxable estate. You can also place parameters around how the funds are used. For example, you can stipulate that funds for a grandchild are only to be used to purchase a home.

Of course, it is important to work with your financial advisor to work through the particulars of your gifting. They can help maximize your gift and give you peace of mind your gift works within your financial plan.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

This article was originally published in the Pioneer Press. You may view the article here.