Guest Blog – 5 Gift Options for Tax Savvy Charitable Planning


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By Lauren Iwema, CAP®, Senior Advisor, Charitable Estate Planning for the American Heart Association

Lauren Iwema, American Heart Association

Maybe you're charitably minded or perhaps you have a tax situation such as a high-income year from selling a business or property? Then consider five ways to make a charitable gift.

One thing is clear in working with our supporters: Unless you’re using the Consolidated Appropriations Act’s (the stimulus bill passed in December 2020) 100% adjusted gross income (AGI) limit for cash donations in 2021, cash is not king when it comes to donations. It’s easy to do, but why pull cash out of your wallet when you could gift something that provides greater tax benefits? Here are smarter options:

Appreciated Stock: Because you qualify for an immediate tax deduction based on the current value of the stock (not what you paid for it), you can make a gift that costs you less. You also bypass capital gains tax that you’d owe if you sold the stock — especially important for those with too many shares or too much gain in a particular stock. It makes sense financially and the American Heart Association makes securities easy to gift.

Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD, or IRA Charitable Rollover) from an Individual Retirement Account (IRA): Traditional and Roth IRA account owners 70 ½ and older can transfer up to $100,000 per year to charity. The hugely beneficial tax treatment of the transferred amount — while it counts towards your required minimum distribution (RMD) — doesn’t count as income. This raises your AGI, possibly into the next Medicare threshold, and you pay no income tax. Also, you don’t need to itemize deductions to take advantage of a QCD.

Real Estate: If you have a primary home/condo, vacation home, commercial property or farmland you no longer need, or if you no longer want to be an apartment landlord, our streamlined program guarantees consideration of every property and offers a fast and mutually agreeable transfer. Whether in exchange for a tax deduction, a charitable gift annuity or retained life estate, consider the AHA as an option.

Non-Cash Assets: Similar to our real estate program, the AHA has a streamlined approach to accepting gifts of non-cash assets, including business interests, life insurance, annuities, intellectual property, livestock and vehicles. Basically, we consider anything that can be appraised and liquidated to ensure that donors have a wide variety of options to structure their giving. Gifting non-cash assets that are no longer needed is a philanthropic solution that offers tax benefits without affecting the donor’s household budget.

Beneficiary Designation: Beneficiary designation forms (or transfer on death for bank accounts) are worth mentioning for two reasons. First, you can make planned charitable gifts via beneficiary designation. You can leave charity as a secondary beneficiary, after a loved one, or percentages to each charity and loved ones. This is especially key for IRAs, the worst asset for an heir to inherit for tax reasons and made even worse for most people due to recent tax law change. Second, be sure that you periodically review your beneficiary designation forms to ensure that they reflect your current heirs/charities.

Request your free Impact Guide or contact me for brochures on various gift vehicles — outright, planned, those providing lifetime income and more. I’m happy to answer questions and assist in any way.

Happy American Heart Month!

Lauren Iwema, CAP® | Senior Advisor, Charitable Estate Planning | American Heart Association | 630-212-7864 | 

“I work with supporters and their advisors to develop personalized solutions for tax and charitable-planning needs.”

Lauren Iwema has worked with the American Heart Association since 2005 and has eight years of experience in charitable estate planning and complex gift planning. She was inspired to join the organization during her niece Maggie’s struggle with cardiomyopathy at 2 months old. Sixteen years later, she’s as passionate about the AHA’s lifesaving mission as Maggie is for reading.