By Chris Kelly
Exec. VP/General Counsel, Tennessee Baptist Foundation
At this time of year, you are probably consumed with visions of sugar plums or trying to find a bath robe suitable for a shepherd in this year’s Christmas play, but in just a couple short weeks, year 2015 will be in the books and so will the opportunity to make tax deductible gifts for this year. Though it’s definitely more fun to enjoy all that the Christmas season brings, it is worth taking a few minutes between bites of fruitcake to consider the following ideas for your year-end contributions to your church, association, or other Baptist cause.
(1) Consider a special offering to your church. It is the time of year for giving. What better organization to include on your list than your church? There may be a specially-designated fund at your church that could use a little extra this time of year, and if not, there is always the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. It is a great way to honor the local work of your church in making a Kingdom impact.
(2) Give some of your 2016 tithes and offerings today. It may be possible that you want to go ahead and give the church some of your tithes or offerings that you are planning on making in early 2016. The church will be glad to have these funds available sooner for its ministries, and, if you qualify to deduct your charitable contributions, you are able to take advantage of the tax benefits in this year rather than having to wait until you prepare your 2016 returns.
(3) Donate appreciated assets. You may have an asset that you own, such as stock or real estate, that has appreciated well above what you paid for it or the inherited price (your cost basis). If you sell the asset, you will be faced with a capital gain tax on the difference between the cost basis and your sales price. However, a charity, like your church, does not have to pay these taxes. Thus, you can have the full value of that asset used for the work of your church, and you get the charitable tax deduction. As you all know, as we get closer to Christmas and New Year’s Day, we may encounter holiday vacations and schedules, so if any of these ideas appeal to you, turn off “It’s a Wonderful Life” (it’ll be on again soon, I promise), and take a few minutes to take action. Some of these ideas may take a few days to implement by the December 31 deadline, so you don’t want to wait until the last minute (like you do with your Christmas shopping!) to put your plan into motion.