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Giving and Getting

By Dian Vujovich

Whether you’re a tight wad or a generous Jenny, opening up your hearts and wallets is what year-end is all about.

To that end, here are four year-end reminders.

1. Give generously.

• Thrivent Financial is pledging $24 million this year. They’ve partnered with Habitat for Humanity and since 2005 have given a total of $125 million. This year’s gift will help build 314 homes.

• When donating stocks to charity, consider selling your losers and then donating those proceeds to your favorite charity. That way you can claim a tax loss and the charity wins from your donation.

• Decide to donate a vehicle to charity, and how the group uses it will determine the write-off you’ll get.

• And, if grandpa is at least 70 1/2 he can donate as much as $100,000 of tax-free money from his IRA directly to his favorite charity.

Don’t forget, it’s a paper world and written receipts for all charitable donations, regardless of the amount, are necessary to take advantage or your giving.

2. More silver linings for you.

This year’s silver linings boils down to taking advantage all of those tax losses you may have racked up thanks to the market’s down turn. That means dumping securities from your taxable accounts before December 31 likely means saving a buck or two this year and in years to come.

If your capital losses are bigger than your gains,( who’s got gains?), you typically can deduct as much as $3,000 of net losses from wages and other income. And all of those net losses not accounted for will get carried over into future years.

While the top rate on long-term capital gains is 15 percent, it’s zero for a few such as those in the lowest tax brackets. Yes, zero. As in nada-cent. For details, see IRS Publications 550 and 564, available on the IRS Web site (irs.gov).

3. Do This NOW.

This is the time of year that mutual funds make their capital gains distributions which means tax consequences for fund shareholders. To avoid this nasty, contact your fund family by phone, or visit their web site, to see when the distribution is to be made. If that hasn’t happened yet and you’re no fan of the fund, sell it now to avoid the tax.

4. Give More Money Away.

Cash is king now and forever. (Almost sounds like a prayer, doesn’t it.) So don’t forget you can give up to $12,000 per individual to as many people as you’d like and pay no gift tax. Give the gift with your spouse it gets doubled to $24,000.


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