If your mail is anything like mine lately, you’ve been barraged by fundraising requests, in the spirit of the season, and as the tax year ends. They come from local, national and international charities, environmental and community organizations, your church or synagogue, your college, and others.

They ask for your financial support to assuage hunger, improve literacy, help refugees, protect the planet, put a new roof on an historic building, and many other causes. They are all worthwhile and worthy of your help.

In the past many of us could use our contributions as an itemized deduction for our federal tax returns. But when the tax law changed a couple of years ago, many of us no longer had enough total deductions to itemize. Our incomes may have stayed about the same, and our contributions may be at the same level, but we don’t have enough to deduct: for 2019, the standard deduction amounts will increase to $12,200 for individuals and $24,400 for married couples filing jointly.

Last year, charitable giving by individuals declined 3.4% adjusted for inflation, according to Giving USA. The percentage seems small, but the impact is great, and those worthwhile causes are feeling the pinch. Some commentaries point to the tax law, but some also say the volatility of the stock market had an effect. And some point out that the question may not be whether to give, but when and how much to give.

Your contributions were deductible, but it wasn’t a dollar-for-dollar deduction; you had about a 25% break on your taxes. For example, if you gave $1,000, it only “cost” you $750. Do you still have $750 to give? Think about this when you open those envelopes and emails and be as generous as you can. Your donations make a big difference.

 

Judith Feinstein

Hallowell


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