Retirees, Get an Upfront Tax Break for Delayed Charitable Giving

A donor-advised fund allows you to deduct your contributions on your tax return today while postponing the actual charitable donations until later.

A person writes a check for a donation
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Americans are a generous people, donating many billions of dollars to charity each year, nearly $450 billion in 2019 alone. Although the U.S. government rewards donations with a tax break, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made it harder to qualify by increasing the size of the standard deduction. To get any tax benefit from your donations in 2021, your total itemized deductions for the year, including charitable gifts, must exceed $12,550 for individuals and $25,100 for married filers.

These new rules make it more tax-effective to give a single, large donation rather than spread it out over time, but "people might not want the charity receiving everything at once," says Neel Shah, an estate-planning attorney and a certified financial planner at Shah Total Planning in Monroe Township, N.J. "People's intentions and charitable goals can also change over time, or they might not know which charity to give to."

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David Rodeck
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger's Retirement Report