In Matthew 25: 34-40, Jesus implores people of faith to heal the sick, clothe the naked and provide a drink of living water to the thirsty soul. In doing these things “to one of the least of these,” he said we are also doing them to him.
We respond to that call, in part, by generously offering our financial gifts through The United Methodist Church and its worldwide connection. And at year-end, when many people are planning their giving with potential tax benefits in mind, several options fulfill our need to care for “the least of these.”
Pay your church pledge
Consider paying your 2016 pledge in full, as well as prepaying all or a portion of your 2017 pledge. If you itemize deductions on your tax return, you’ll receive a tax deduction for your gift.
Give appreciated securities
If you give shares of stocks, bonds or mutual funds to your church, you receive an income tax deduction for the full value of your gift. You also avoid the capital gains tax you would incur if you sold the securities yourself. The church sells that gift tax-free and receives its full value. You may also sell stock that has gone down in value, give the proceeds to your church and apply the realized loss on your 2016 tax return. Many Florida Conference churches can receive securities electronically, but if your church doesn’t have that capability, the foundation can assist in making a gift.
Give from your IRA
Last year, Congress made the IRA charitable rollover permanent. If you are 70.5 or older and must take a required minimum distribution from your traditional IRA, you may roll over up to $100,000 to your church, the foundation or other qualified charity. The charitable transfer isn’t considered income, so it’s tax-free, and it counts toward your minimum distribution. To qualify, your IRA trustee must send the funds directly to your church or charity.
Give from a will or trust
A bequest from your will or trust is a way to leave a legacy to your church as a statement of lifelong Christian stewardship. Just add a one-page addendum or codicil to your document to make the bequest. And if you don’t already have a will or living trust, we strongly encourage you to have one written, and consider a bequest to your church when you do.
Give now, make a difference over time
A donor advised fund lets you make a tax-deductible gift now and additional distributions over time. You make an initial gift to the foundation and then periodically advise how the fund should be distributed to your church or other charities. The fund will be invested so it can grow, and you may add to it at any time. It’s a convenient, low-cost alternative to a family foundation, and the fund can become permanent, with family members named as advisors upon your death.
Give now, get income for life
Life income arrangements, like charitable trusts and gift annuities, combine a gift to your church with income and tax benefits for you or your family. With charitable gift annuities administered by the foundation, for example, donors receive an annual rate of return and an immediate tax deduction for a portion of the gift. At the donor’s death, the remaining value of the gift annuity is distributed to the designated church or other charities. And charitable gift annuities can be for one or two people.
These are just a few options to consider. What’s most important is not how we give, but why — to care for the least of these.
Please consult with your financial or tax advisor before making a gift to determine what’s best for you.
* Wilkinson is the foundation’s vice president of church relations and new business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-904-2970, extension 7105, for more information about planned giving strategies that are right for you.