Three year-end questions about charities

Friday, December 13, 2002

By Trudy Lee

director of planned giving

Southeast Missouri State University Foundation

As you tidy up your financial affairs for this year, you will likely be thinking about your charitable giving goals and aspirations. The charities participating in Leave A Legacy of the Heartland this year hope you have learned of some charitable possibilities that may help you and the charities you hold dear.

As Dec. 31 approaches, here are a few questions to help you plan.

1. Am I able to make a charitable gift this year?

As the year closes, you will likely receive mail from various charities requesting your financial assistance. During this period, we hope you will remember our local charities and our ongoing financial needs. We are eager to conclude this year in good financial shape so we can confidently face the opportunities and challenges of the future. Your special year-end gift will strengthen us considerably.

A gift may be unrestricted to be used where needed most. Or it could be earmarked for a specific purpose. For example, you could designate your gift for capital expenses, such as new construction or remodeling projects. You could also establish an endowment fund to create a legacy or to honor someone you admire.

2. What are my tax obligations this year?

Many taxpayers consult with their accountants before the end of the year to determine tax liability. Perhaps you've done this already or maybe you simply have a good idea where you stand. In any case, we encourage you to take advantage of the tax benefits offered by the government. The income tax charitable deduction can allow you to give more than you might otherwise be able to give.

Are your taxes likely to be high this year? Then it may be a good time to increase your giving. You might even consider moving forward some of next year's giving into this year so you can utilize the tax benefits this year.

3. Do I have appreciated stock or real estate I could use to fund an income-for-life gift arrangement?

You may find yourself in a situation where you want to give more to charity but cannot afford to decrease your annual income. Consider a life income arrangement such as a gift annuity or a charitable remainder trust. A gift of an appreciated asset, such as stock or real estate, to fund a life income plan may result in more income than you are currently receiving from the asset.

Your professional advisor(s) are the best ones to assist you in planning a gift of this type. Most charities (particularly those listed below) can assist you by providing more information to you and your advisor(s) on the ways charitable gift planning can help you.

It's not too late

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, it is not too late to complete a charitable gift by year-end. However, if you are planning to use stock or real estate, either as an outright gift or to fund a life income plan, you must begin immediately. Consultations with your professional adviser(s) take time. The sooner you begin the process, the less hurried you will feel.

The following charitable organizations have participated this year in Leave A Legacy of the Heartland:

American Red Cross

Area Wide United Way

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Cape Girardeau

Centenary United Methodist Church

Chateau Girardeau Foundation

Friends of Cape Girardeau Public Library Foundation

Girl Scouts of Otahki Council

The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri

Kenny Rogers Children's Center

Lutheran Family and Children's Services

Old Town Cape

Regional Family Crisis Center

Riverside Regional Library

Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)

Safe House for Women

SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence

Southeast Missouri District Fair Association

SEMO Network Against Sexual Violence

Southeast Missouri Hospital Foundation

Southeast Missouri University Foundation

Teen Challenge International of Mid-America

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