Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

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Wricha
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Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by Wricha » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:18 pm

For those that are comfortably retired (40 times expense or more) what percent of your investments do you contribute to charity? And what percent of your estate do you plan to leave to charity?

Personally I never thought of giving as a percent of investments (net worth - personal real estate). I thought in terms of total dollars. Which in total dollars it always sounded like I was a solid citizen. Since, I have been retired almost 4 years and my net worth continues to grow (Good market and real estate) I have come to the conclusion I am pretty cheap. I gave 1% of my net worth (excluding personal real estate). However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?

RadAudit
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by RadAudit » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:37 pm

Wricha wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:18 pm
I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity.
I'm told that isn't the approved solution to the problem. Don't know for sure. YMMV :happy
Wricha wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:18 pm
what percent of your estate do you plan to leave to charity?
0%. I'm on a pay as you go plan. The estate goes first to the DW and then, when she is through with it, the kids.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. - PS: The calvary isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.

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GerryL
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by GerryL » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:48 pm

Four years into retirement and I am in a similar situation as to having more than I need to meet my needs and my wants. I have never calculated as far as a percentage of my income for charitable giving, but when I start taking RMDs next year I intend to put around 1/3 toward QCDs. If RMDs start getting too big and my income gets close to the IRMAA line, the percentage going to QCDs is likely to grow to keep me from being subject to IRMAA.

I do plan to keep feeding my DAF and giving out about the same amount each year as I have in the past. I am lucky to have a bunch of low cost basis stock that I can use for that purpose for years to come. One new thing I am looking into is a charitable gift annuity for one organization.

Most of my estate will be going to a few charities, but I figure I would rather execute much of that giving now than sometime in the (I hope) distant future when I am no longer around to care. It is fun to send off those gifts, and I'm actually looking forward to turning 70.5!

jdb
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by jdb » Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:58 pm

100% of my annual RMD through QCDs to qualified charities. Fun part is selecting the charities. Good luck.

delamer
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by delamer » Fri Aug 10, 2018 7:16 pm

Several charities split the esate in the unlikely event that neither of our kids outlives us.

We don’t donate now based on a percentage, but just as the spirit moves us.

basspond
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by basspond » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:07 am

A percentage based on our living expenses.

brandy
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by brandy » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:31 am

I'm not really comfortably retired. I tithe every month, and have for years. The "pay as you go" plan, mentioned above.
I just checked the tax status of small local charities I give to, and had to search for the status. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=256218

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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by indexonlyplease » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:37 am

However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
I just checked with god. He told me it does not work that way.

However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
I just check with the local church and the pastor stated donate ASAP. His Mercedes Benz is 5 years old.

I started buying bicycles 5 years ago and donate them to a charity that houses children taken away from the families. At christmas time. I go to Walmart purchase 10 girl bikes and 10 boy bikes. Walmart builds them then delivers them. I like this better that cash donation because the bikes go to the kids.

CurlyDave
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by CurlyDave » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:10 am

indexonlyplease wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:37 am
However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
I just checked with God. He told me it does not work that way...
We spread our giving around, mostly to local organizations and people.

Some of it we get charitable donation deductions for, some we do not, especially when it is to people rather than organizations.

No set amount for anything, but the total comes close to 10% of AGI each year. We help support a missionary family, our church, local charities, sponsor kids through World Vision, etc. We both believe strongly in education and will pay tuition and books at the local community college for people we meet through volunteering at local charities, and people from our church who want to improve themselves.

No single huge amounts but smaller amounts to a variety of causes.

I like your bicycle idea. We contribute to the local pregnancy care center at Christmas -- save a kid's life.

Wricha
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by Wricha » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:38 am

RadAudit wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:37 pm
Wricha wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:18 pm
I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity.
I'm told that isn't the approved solution to the problem. Don't know for sure. YMMV :happy
Wricha wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:18 pm
what percent of your estate do you plan to leave to charity?
0%. I'm on a pay as you go plan. The estate goes first to the DW and then, when she is through with it, the kids.
Rats, thought I found my first loophole

Wricha
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by Wricha » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:41 am

I started buying bicycles 5 years ago and donate them to a charity that houses children taken away from the families. At christmas time. I go to Walmart purchase 10 girl bikes and 10 boy bikes. Walmart builds them then delivers them. I like this better that cash donation because the bikes go to the kids.

Very nice idea thanks

rjbraun
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by rjbraun » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:36 am

CurlyDave wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:10 am
indexonlyplease wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:37 am
However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
I just checked with God. He told me it does not work that way...
We spread our giving around, mostly to local organizations and people.

Some of it we get charitable donation deductions for, some we do not, especially when it is to people rather than organizations.

No set amount for anything, but the total comes close to 10% of AGI each year. We help support a missionary family, our church, local charities, sponsor kids through World Vision, etc. We both believe strongly in education and will pay tuition and books at the local community college for people we meet through volunteering at local charities, and people from our church who want to improve themselves.

No single huge amounts but smaller amounts to a variety of causes.

I like your bicycle idea. We contribute to the local pregnancy care center at Christmas -- save a kid's life.
When you make the more personal donations, do you do it anonymously? I also like the idea of more personal donations but haven't necessarily found the best approach for me. I find that giving targeted gifts anonymously can be challenging (takes more time, no recourse if there's an issue with accessing the funds, etc.). But, giving gifts in person can also be awkward, at times.

brandy
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by brandy » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:13 am

When you make the more personal donations, do you do it anonymously?
For years I used postal money orders for my giving, with a phony name, so yes, anonymously, and never claimed it on taxes. I have one check account with just my name,(no address) which is relatively common, so still anonymous. I still do not claim it on taxes.

I also like the idea of more personal donations but haven't necessarily found the best approach for me. I find that giving targeted gifts anonymously can be challenging (takes more time, no recourse if there's an issue with accessing the funds, etc.). But, giving gifts in person can also be awkward, at times.
If you keep searching for the way to make personal donations, you'll find what you are comfortable with.
When I began my search almost a lifetime ago, I had a work friend that always had financial problems. She was, IMO, a good hearted woman. She made the same amount I did but had a few more bills. One period in particular, she seemed in severe financial distress, telling me about all her bills and how she didn't know how she would pay them, how she would make it to payday. She had no idea that I gave to charities.

I did a lot of thinking about it, and decided to give her close to $100 anonymously. I placed bills in an envelope and stuck it in her door shortly before she was due home from work, then parked a few houses away to be sure she got it. I watched her arrive home, look in the envelope, unlock her door and go inside before I drove away.

The next time we were at work together, she was elated. She bought new jeans and tops, and a very nice sweater. (Told you it was a long time ago!) she did NOT pay her bills! :oops: I still laugh about it. That was the last time I gave any amount that way. Lesson learned. Now it goes to organizations that ( I think I know) help people or animals.

That bike idea is a good one I agree.
Last edited by brandy on Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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David Jay
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by David Jay » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:24 am

jdb wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:58 pm
100% of my annual RMD through QCDs to qualified charities.
THIS!

Up to $100,000 per year (each if you both have qualifying accounts):
1. It meets (or counts towards) your RMD requirement
2. It does not count as MAGI for means-tested programs (SS taxability, Medicare premium levels, etc.).
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future - Niels Bohr | To get the "risk premium", you really do have to take the risk - nisiprius

JoinToday
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by JoinToday » Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:15 pm

Wricha wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:18 pm
For those that are comfortably retired (40 times expense or more) what percent of your investments do you contribute to charity? And what percent of your estate do you plan to leave to charity?

Personally I never thought of giving as a percent of investments (net worth - personal real estate). I thought in terms of total dollars. Which in total dollars it always sounded like I was a solid citizen. Since, I have been retired almost 4 years and my net worth continues to grow (Good market and real estate) I have come to the conclusion I am pretty cheap. I gave 1% of my net worth (excluding personal real estate). However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
Do you give 1% of net worth every year, or you gave 1% of your net worth combined over the last 4 years? I think 1% per year is a lot, 25% of a 4% safe withdrawal rate.

I like the way you think about this (charity as a % of net worth, excluding personal real estate) -- except that it makes me feel cheap! I was thinking of waiting until RMDs start to increase my charitable giving due to the tax advantages. I funded my Fidelity Donor Advised Fund with years worth of donations in 2017.

When I think of the money I save in financial fees (I am not paying a financial advisor, I use low cost index funds, I pay much less tax due to tax efficient ), I am probably saving at least 1% per year. I think of it as free money.
I wish I had learned about index funds 25 years ago

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Peter Foley
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by Peter Foley » Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:38 pm

indexonlyplease wrote:
I started buying bicycles 5 years ago and donate them to a charity that houses children taken away from the families. At christmas time. I go to Walmart purchase 10 girl bikes and 10 boy bikes. Walmart builds them then delivers them. I like this better that cash donation because the bikes go to the kids.
I like this approach - direct giving with no overhead. There is an organization that does this in a number of cities: fb4k.org I volunteer for the Minneapolis/St. Paul organization as well as for an entity that gives bikes to adults. FB4K collects used bikes, fixes them and gives them away - about 6,000 bikes per year.

Other than Bogleheads, all of my volunteer time in retirement is dedicated to a similar cause - fix bicycles to give away to those in need.

Our local pastor used to talk about charitable giving in the context of time, talent, and treasure. This thread is about treasure but it is important to note time and talent as well.

With respect to treasure, we are in the comfortable range in terms of retirement assets. We give set amounts to specific organizations mostly through a donor advised fund. The amount we give to charity is related to our annual income, not our net worth. We also make substantial gifts to children and grandchildren. We are on track to fund 4 years of college education for our two oldest and are a few years away from funding 4 years for the two youngest. Gifting and charitable giving are our largest discretionary annual expenses.

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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by CurlyDave » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:38 am

rjbraun wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:36 am
...When you make the more personal donations, do you do it anonymously? I also like the idea of more personal donations but haven't necessarily found the best approach for me. I find that giving targeted gifts anonymously can be challenging (takes more time, no recourse if there's an issue with accessing the funds, etc.). But, giving gifts in person can also be awkward, at times.
We usually give in person, but no one knows about any of the other gifts -- only DW and I. By check if it is deductible (an organization), frequently cash otherwise. Some of the people we give to have difficulty navigating the financial system and cash always works.

Not always cash. Travel tickets to visit aging family members are good. Education subsidies can come in the form of books, tuition payments, or even a computer.

We seldom give anonymously, there is too much chance of the gift going astray...

If it is to a man, I handle the details, DW does that for women. This prevents any misunderstandings.

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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by prairieman » Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:24 am

Wricha wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:18 pm
For those that are comfortably retired (40 times expense or more) what percent of your investments do you contribute to charity? And what percent of your estate do you plan to leave to charity?

Personally I never thought of giving as a percent of investments (net worth - personal real estate). I thought in terms of total dollars. Which in total dollars it always sounded like I was a solid citizen. Since, I have been retired almost 4 years and my net worth continues to grow (Good market and real estate) I have come to the conclusion I am pretty cheap. I gave 1% of my net worth (excluding personal real estate). However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
I also am currently pretty cheap as a percentage but am comfortable with the level we give at. We do donate considerable time and expertise and I know that is appreciated. Our estate value climbs with time, though, and I can foresee us doing something much greater in our declining years.

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Will do good
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by Will do good » Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:40 am

indexonlyplease wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:37 am
However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
I just checked with god. He told me it does not work that way.

However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
I just check with the local church and the pastor stated donate ASAP. His Mercedes Benz is 5 years old.

I started buying bicycles 5 years ago and donate them to a charity that houses children taken away from the families. At christmas time. I go to Walmart purchase 10 girl bikes and 10 boy bikes. Walmart builds them then delivers them. I like this better that cash donation because the bikes go to the kids.
Good idea!

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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by tomd37 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:09 am

I address these comments to those of us taking RMDs, who are over age 70.5, and have a desire to make charitable contributions whether small or large. Consider the tax benefits under the new federal tax laws that are in effect for tax year 2018. Many of us at this age no longer itemize deductions and under the new laws itemized deductions are now being reduced while at the same time the standard deduction is increasing significantly (almost doubling) and personal and dependent exemptions no longer exist.

If you give monies to charity you might look into donating via the qualified charitable distribution (QCD) method. All such donations to a qualified charitable organization via this method are not considered taxable income. For example if your annual RMD is $50,000 and you donate $10,000 of that to qualified charitable organizations only $40,000 is reported on line 15b as taxable income. Thus if your marginal tax rate is 22% you have saved $2,200 in federal tax while still donating $10,000 to charity. You will receive a Form 1099-R for the full $50,000 RMD, but it is up to you to report any QCD correctly on line 15 of your federal tax return.

Don't forget that you must have reached the age of 70.5 before or on the day you make your QCD. If you make it before you reach 70.5 it is not a QCD and is taxable income.
Tom D.

jebmke
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by jebmke » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:13 am

tomd37 wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:09 am
I address these comments to those of us taking RMDs, who are over age 70.5, and have a desire to make charitable contributions whether small or large. Consider the tax benefits under the new federal tax laws that are in effect for tax year 2018. Many of us at this age no longer itemize deductions and under the new laws itemized deductions are now being reduced while at the same time the standard deduction is increasing significantly (almost doubling) and personal and dependent exemptions no longer exist.

If you give monies to charity you might look into donating via the qualified charitable distribution (QCD) method. All such donations to a qualified charitable organization via this method are not considered taxable income. For example if your annual RMD is $50,000 and you donate $10,000 of that to qualified charitable organizations only $40,000 is reported on line 15b as taxable income. Thus if your marginal tax rate is 22% you have saved $2,200 in federal tax while still donating $10,000 to charity. You will receive a Form 1099-R for the full $50,000 RMD, but it is up to you to report any QCD correctly on line 15 of your federal tax return.

Don't forget that you must have reached the age of 70.5 before or on the day you make your QCD. If you make it before you reach 70.5 it is not a QCD and is taxable income.
Tom:

Does this also mean that this income is excluded for IRMAA and taxability of SS calculation purposes?

jeb
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Wricha
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by Wricha » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:34 am

prairieman wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 9:24 am
Wricha wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:18 pm
For those that are comfortably retired (40 times expense or more) what percent of your investments do you contribute to charity? And what percent of your estate do you plan to leave to charity?

Personally I never thought of giving as a percent of investments (net worth - personal real estate). I thought in terms of total dollars. Which in total dollars it always sounded like I was a solid citizen. Since, I have been retired almost 4 years and my net worth continues to grow (Good market and real estate) I have come to the conclusion I am pretty cheap. I gave 1% of my net worth (excluding personal real estate). However, I plan on buying my way into the promise land on my last trick by donating 100% of my estate to charity. What do others do?
I also am currently pretty cheap as a percentage but am comfortable with the level we give at. We do donate considerable time and expertise and I know that is appreciated. Our estate value climbs with time, though, and I can foresee us doing something much greater in our declining years.
Thanks for reply I guess like you I am thinking of something big in the declining years (if one can predict). Big without being stupid is my thought. When it comes to personal finances I alway been a sandbagger. If my net worth was $1.5M I’d say and think I just broke a $1M. Even when posting on an anonymous board I would round down then before I hit the send key knock another 20% it a sickness! Truly I would like to donate more that’s why I am interested in what others do.

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GerryL
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by GerryL » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:44 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:13 am
tomd37 wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:09 am
I address these comments to those of us taking RMDs, who are over age 70.5, and have a desire to make charitable contributions whether small or large. Consider the tax benefits under the new federal tax laws that are in effect for tax year 2018. Many of us at this age no longer itemize deductions and under the new laws itemized deductions are now being reduced while at the same time the standard deduction is increasing significantly (almost doubling) and personal and dependent exemptions no longer exist.

If you give monies to charity you might look into donating via the qualified charitable distribution (QCD) method. All such donations to a qualified charitable organization via this method are not considered taxable income. For example if your annual RMD is $50,000 and you donate $10,000 of that to qualified charitable organizations only $40,000 is reported on line 15b as taxable income. Thus if your marginal tax rate is 22% you have saved $2,200 in federal tax while still donating $10,000 to charity. You will receive a Form 1099-R for the full $50,000 RMD, but it is up to you to report any QCD correctly on line 15 of your federal tax return.

Don't forget that you must have reached the age of 70.5 before or on the day you make your QCD. If you make it before you reach 70.5 it is not a QCD and is taxable income.
Tom:

Does this also mean that this income is excluded for IRMAA and taxability of SS calculation purposes?

jeb
Yes. It comes out of your income before you get to the AGI line on the income tax form. The QCD subtracts from income, but of course it cannot be counted as a donation when you are adding up your deductions. My MO going forward will be to use QCDs to keep out of reach of IRMAA.

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David Jay
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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving

Post by David Jay » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:49 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:13 am
tomd37 wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:09 am
I address these comments to those of us taking RMDs, who are over age 70.5, and have a desire to make charitable contributions whether small or large. Consider the tax benefits under the new federal tax laws that are in effect for tax year 2018. Many of us at this age no longer itemize deductions and under the new laws itemized deductions are now being reduced while at the same time the standard deduction is increasing significantly (almost doubling) and personal and dependent exemptions no longer exist.

If you give monies to charity you might look into donating via the qualified charitable distribution (QCD) method. All such donations to a qualified charitable organization via this method are not considered taxable income. For example if your annual RMD is $50,000 and you donate $10,000 of that to qualified charitable organizations only $40,000 is reported on line 15b as taxable income. Thus if your marginal tax rate is 22% you have saved $2,200 in federal tax while still donating $10,000 to charity. You will receive a Form 1099-R for the full $50,000 RMD, but it is up to you to report any QCD correctly on line 15 of your federal tax return.

Don't forget that you must have reached the age of 70.5 before or on the day you make your QCD. If you make it before you reach 70.5 it is not a QCD and is taxable income.
Tom:

Does this also mean that this income is excluded for IRMAA and taxability of SS calculation purposes?

jeb
I’m not Tom, but:
1. QCD amount is not included in Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) which is used for IRMAA. So giving via QCD is excluded from IRMAA calculation.
2. MAGI is used in the SS taxable calculation, so QCD giving is excluded from SS tax calculation.

My thread on using the QCD to reduce taxable (and in my case, allow for Roth conversions) here: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=224985
Last edited by David Jay on Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future - Niels Bohr | To get the "risk premium", you really do have to take the risk - nisiprius

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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by sport » Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:45 pm

QCDs may reduce your state income taxes as well. They do for my state.

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Re: Comfortably Retired and charity giving?

Post by rjbraun » Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:44 pm

brandy wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:13 am
When you make the more personal donations, do you do it anonymously?
For years I used postal money orders for my giving, with a phony name, so yes, anonymously, and never claimed it on taxes. I have one check account with just my name,(no address) which is relatively common, so still anonymous. I still do not claim it on taxes.

I also like the idea of more personal donations but haven't necessarily found the best approach for me. I find that giving targeted gifts anonymously can be challenging (takes more time, no recourse if there's an issue with accessing the funds, etc.). But, giving gifts in person can also be awkward, at times.
If you keep searching for the way to make personal donations, you'll find what you are comfortable with.
When I began my search almost a lifetime ago, I had a work friend that always had financial problems. She was, IMO, a good hearted woman. She made the same amount I did but had a few more bills. One period in particular, she seemed in severe financial distress, telling me about all her bills and how she didn't know how she would pay them, how she would make it to payday. She had no idea that I gave to charities.

I did a lot of thinking about it, and decided to give her close to $100 anonymously. I placed bills in an envelope and stuck it in her door shortly before she was due home from work, then parked a few houses away to be sure she got it. I watched her arrive home, look in the envelope, unlock her door and go inside before I drove away.

The next time we were at work together, she was elated. She bought new jeans and tops, and a very nice sweater. (Told you it was a long time ago!) she did NOT pay her bills! :oops: I still laugh about it. That was the last time I gave any amount that way. Lesson learned. Now it goes to organizations that ( I think I know) help people or animals.

That bike idea is a good one I agree.

@brandy: Funny, I had a similar experience with a work colleague, though she made considerably less than I did. Anyway, I was able to give her the gift anonymously and even got a thank you note from her (via the school principal). I was considering to later also pay for some summer program for the child, but that didn't work out for a few reasons. Anyway, I have no reason to think that she ever figured out that I gave her the gift, but like you I found that she seemed to spend money more freely than I do in some ways. I'm less passing judgement but just feel less inclined to give her additional money, though I wouldn't rule it out entirely if it was for something specific to help her son. Nice that you can "laugh" about your work friend's clothes purchases after all these years.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=128296&p=1885544#p1885544
CurlyDave wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:38 am
rjbraun wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:36 am
...When you make the more personal donations, do you do it anonymously? I also like the idea of more personal donations but haven't necessarily found the best approach for me. I find that giving targeted gifts anonymously can be challenging (takes more time, no recourse if there's an issue with accessing the funds, etc.). But, giving gifts in person can also be awkward, at times.
We usually give in person, but no one knows about any of the other gifts -- only DW and I. By check if it is deductible (an organization), frequently cash otherwise. Some of the people we give to have difficulty navigating the financial system and cash always works.

Not always cash. Travel tickets to visit aging family members are good. Education subsidies can come in the form of books, tuition payments, or even a computer.

We seldom give anonymously, there is too much chance of the gift going astray...

If it is to a man, I handle the details, DW does that for women. This prevents any misunderstandings.
@CurlyDave: yes, a gift of cash certainly has its conveniences. I still *worry* some about whether the gift cards I gave a student all functioned properly and weren't subjected to fraud. :( Also nice to give needed tickets or other specific gifts. Good point about potential mixed signals with cross-gender gifts.

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