Ryan Ermey: If you're looking for a gift for a dad, a grad or a newlywed this June -- or if you just want to snag a good bargain for yourself, we've got you covered. Sandy and I go over Kiplinger's latest roundup of great deals in our main segment. On today's show, we go over money smart rules for charitable giving, and Sandy plays a tax-themed round of Jeopardy. That's all ahead on this episode of Your Money's Worth. Stick around.
- Episode Length: 00:32:02
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Sandy Block: It's getting hot up here, Ryan, but in the interest of good sound quality, I have turned off the air conditioner. So yeah, I'm a little sweaty, but this is all audio. So, no one will know.
Ryan Ermey: Yeah. I mean, look, I exist in a perpetual state of sweatiness to some degree. So, welcome to my world. We wanted to kick things off and we're not a political show. We're not going to get into political issues, but regardless of your politics -- given everything that is going on right now -- we wanted to give a reminder that there are still people and charities that are in need of your help. There are a number of sort of new pieces of news on that front, especially we know we've covered a little bit on the show, but we wanted to give people a reminder, if you're a first-time listener . . . a little bit of a lesson in terms of what's going on in terms of charitable giving right now, so.
Sandy Block: I mean, the big thing that we want to remind people is that as part of the CARES Act, which was enacted earlier this year, you can claim up to $300 in legitimate charitable deductions on your 2020 tax return even if you claim the standard deduction. That's important because most people, the vast majority of people claim the standard deduction, and that has resulted in a drop-off in contributions to charity. So, if you give up to $300 this year, keep good records because you will be able to deduct that. Now, there are some limits. You can't deduct donations to donor-advised funds and certain organizations that support charities aren't deductible, but this is a nice little . . . it's not a huge tax break, but it's a nice little give back.
Sandy Block: The other thing we wanted to update listeners on is there is a push to make this go beyond this year. There's some talk that this $300 will continue in the future and maybe even get larger. The reason for this is this -- when Congress enacted the tax overhaul at the end of 2017 and basically greatly expanded the percentage of taxpayers who claim the standard deduction, there was a lot of concern that contributions to charities would go way down because most people don't get a tax break for doing it. There's a lot of talk in Congress about ways to change that. So, I would say we will obviously update you on what's going to happen, but in the meantime, be sure to take advantage of this particular tax break and keep good records of any donations that you make.
Ryan Ermey: Right. So, you'll want to donate to a 501(c)(3) charity. Charity Navigator (opens in new tab) is a good source online that rates charities on financial health and accountability. The Wise Giving Alliance looks at governance, fundraising, effectiveness, donor privacy. You'll want to check the internet for any complaints or reviews about a charity. A good source is the Better Business Bureau (opens in new tab) site for your region. It's worth vetting an organization obviously before you give them your money. You can also give appreciated stock. Now, this is something that a few months ago seemed a little bit less likely, but now that the market has bounced back significantly, you can donate stock to a charity.
Ryan Ermey: They will have to have a brokerage account, but in any respectable charity's website, they will show in the FAQs, do we accept stock? If not, you can always call them and ask, but the nice thing is, is that it's a way to cut your taxes even further than just cutting them by donating cash. If you donate stock to a charity, you'll get to claim the current value of the stock as an itemized deduction. Of course, if you're donating appreciated stock, you won't have to pay longterm capital gains tax on that appreciated stock on that capital gain if you were to have sold it in a taxable account. So, those are all things to consider.
Ryan Ermey: Sandy, we should also remind people that certain donations aren't deductible and don't apply to this deduction under the CARES Act.
Sandy Block: Right. I think these are particularly relevant to the times that we're in. Contributions to political campaigns are not deductible. The other thing we want to remind our listeners is that there's been a big jump in GoFundMe activity lately, either for people who have been affected by the pandemic or people who have been affected by some of the unrest we've seen in the past few days. I've seen GoFundMe sites for retailers that were hit and things like that. Those are generally not deductible unless the GoFundMe campaign is in the name of a legitimate 501(c)(3) charity.
Sandy Block: It's also good to remind people that you should always vet GoFundMe sites that are tied to some big news event, because every time there's something in the news or people have been affected by a natural disaster or anything else, you see a spate of GoFundMe campaigns and some of them are scams. Some of them are people just trying to take advantage of public sentiment. Sometimes it's just well meaning people who set up a GoFundMe account for people who did not approve it. So really vet those and keep in mind that if you do want to bail someone out of jail or help someone rebuild through a GoFundMe campaign, you probably won't be able to deduct that on your tax returns.
Ryan Ermey: Yeah. Of course, a lot of legitimate charities for bailing people out of jail, too. You just look for that 501(c)(3) designation and check them out on Charity Navigator. There are a huge list of resources, regardless of where you want to be donating right now, people out there need your help. I did want to take this opportunity to say that if you are in need of some kind of financial advice or just have confusion over some kind of financial situation and you think that we can help, feel free to reach out to us. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org (opens in new tab), email@example.com (opens in new tab), firstname.lastname@example.org (opens in new tab). We're happy to help you if you are experiencing some sort of financial burden in any way we can, at least in the form of sound time tested financial advice.
Ryan Ermey: When we return, Sandy and I fill you in on some of our favorite June deals. Don't go anywhere.
Ryan Ermey: We are back and Sandy, we don't have a special guest for this particular show, but since it is the beginning of June as we record, we figured that people might be looking for deals on gifts for graduates, for dads, for newlyweds, which are all things that we rounded up in the most recent July issue of Kiplinger's magazine (opens in new tab). We also just have an enormous deals round up for all of the things that we cover. We wanted to highlight a couple of our favorites from that package. We and our colleagues were able to put together some really outstanding deals. But, yeah, I mean there's stuff that's a little bit more immediate. I mean, has any of this stuff come up on your social calendar? I mean, you and I . . .
Sandy Block: Well, I have a dad. We both have dads.
Ryan Ermey: Yeah. We both have dads.
Sandy Block: Father's Day is coming up. Yes, I actually do know some recent graduates. One of the things we wanted to focus on particularly is what we're calling low-contact gifts, because a lot of people still aren't comfortable going into stores and want to make a statement without feeling like you're jeopardizing your health. So for grads, we're suggesting, I mean, I think a down payment on a student loan would be welcomed on by any graduate. That's a huge burden, too.
Ryan Ermey: Yeah, regardless.
Sandy Block: Yeah, regardless. I think they'd love anything that you could buy, but it would not be as good as helping them out on their student loans. You could also contribute to a Roth IRA and get your graduate on the road to retirement. If this is a high school grad or maybe a college grad who's going on to school, you could contribute to a 529 plan and maybe reduce the chance that they'll have to pay student loans. So, Ryan, I know you're the best gift giver. What are you thinking for your dad?
Ryan Ermey: Well, so we have a lot of very financially sound gift ideas in the magazine. A gift card to a local business is certainly a good one and we obviously want to be supporting our local businesses these days, especially ones that might be on the ropes. Maybe your a dad has a favorite hoagie. My dad is from Jersey -- so his favorite hoagie shop or favorite pizza place or something like that, that might not be open. That might be a good idea that he could then use it when things open back up. We have also suggested online personal training sessions. Now, my dad might take that as a bit of a dig. I don't really know.
Ryan Ermey: I would suggest that online training sessions -- but not for your body -- might be good. So, we have the great courses streaming. You have masterclass. These are things that no matter what your dad is into, you can probably find someone that will teach him something interesting. I know my dad was a huge Discovery and History channel guy, a lifelong learner, likes to learn about this kind of stuff. The other thing, I mean, I'm probably not considering this for my dad in particular, but a good idea that I've seen floating around here and that a couple people got from my roommate is Cameo (opens in new tab) where you can pay for a celebrity to give a birthday message or in this case a Father's Day message for someone that you like. My roommate's book club got him a message from Gloria Gaynor.
Sandy Block: Oh my gosh, "I Will Survive." Wow.
Ryan Ermey: She sang it, but at like triple time. You could tell that she was doing like seven in the hour. She's singing. So she kept it moving. In terms of weddings, now, this is interesting because people are really having different ideas about how to go about having a wedding. Some people I know are going ahead and getting married and then having a ceremony sometime down the line. They'll have the party later, but they're going to go ahead and get married. Especially if you want to get on your partner's insurance or something.
Sandy Block: Yeah, right. Right.
Ryan Ermey: Go ahead and get married now and have the party later. Some people are live casting their weddings, these kinds of things. So the gift giving landscape is going to be different depending on whether people are going to be wanting to be accepting gifts now or waiting until they have the party. But, we do have a couple of suggestions in the magazine.
Sandy Block: Right . . . some people are losing their deposits. So, contributing toward a lost deposit, actually just send them a check, which is always very welcomed by most newlywed couples. They need money and now they really need money. That's one to think of. You could also set them up with a financial planner, a fee-only planner like the ones offered at Garrett Planning Network (opens in new tab). So, they can sort of have a good . . . get off to a good start in terms of shared finances and issues or just contribute to an emergency fund that they set up. These aren't necessarily gifts that will be on a couples registry. Right? But, I don't know any married couple or newly married couple who is averse to receiving cash. In fact, most of them welcome it.
Ryan Ermey: I was at a cash-only gifts wedding not too long ago. The invitation got lost in the mail. I said, "Oh my God, well, send me your wedding website." He goes, "I don't have one." I was like, "All right. Well, what about the registry?" They don't have one. I was like, "So cash just like in "Goodfellas" then?" He was like, "Yeah." . . . "Okay."
Sandy Block: Let's just cut to the chase here, pal.
Ryan Ermey: Sold.
Sandy Block: We did not need any knives. We just want cash.
Ryan Ermey: So we do have a broader list of deals that we do almost every year. I think every year that I've worked for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, we've had a deals, freebies, cheap stuff kind of round-up in the magazine and we always try to come up with new novel interesting things. I'm always impressed with what people are able to come up with. So, I guess we wanted to share a couple of our favorites. Sandy, what was your favorite part of the round-up?
Sandy Block: My favorite was shopping deals and particularly on luxury designer clothes. Now, I have to confess that I have not even rotated my winter clothes to the back of the closet yet, because I'm not wearing them anymore. I mean, I'm not . . . I haven't been to work, but eventually we all will emerge. If you want to freshen up your wardrobe, one way to do it and save a ton of money is through an online consignment shop. The one that most people are familiar with and I have used is TheRealReal (opens in new tab), where you get great deals on secondhand high-end clothing and accessories. We're talking Hermes, Louis Vuitton. I mean, Chanel, the good stuff. A lot of times this stuff has never even been worn. I always wonder what the story is there. It's like some rich person just bought it and decided they didn't need it or what, but these are definitely worth looking at if you want to upgrade your look.
Sandy Block: I think one interesting thing that we note in our story about this is that because retailers have been hit so hard by the recession and the pandemic, some of the luxury brands may be looking to online consignment shops to get their items off the books, to move stuff. So, you may be able to get brand new never worn items for a significant discount of the cost. So, it's fun to look at. Like I said, if you want, eventually you think you're going to start getting dressed for work or parties or whatever. Again, this is a great way to shop and it's all online, so you don't actually have to go out of the house to get some real deals. I've done this. Returns are very easy. It's just a lot of fun and it's also environmentally smart, because you're not adding to waste. You're buying things that somebody already bought and didn't want or wore a couple of times. So, I think there's a kind of satisfaction to that, too.
Ryan Ermey: I'll tell you what, though. My boyfriend, I mean, you should check some of these regular retailers, too, like J. Crew, which was recently filing for bankruptcy. My boyfriend got nine pairs of shorts and three shirts for under $100 or something.
Sandy Block: Well, that's right. We point that out in this story too that shoppers can expect some big discounts on seasonal clothing, big markdowns, because the stuff just has not been moving. The retailers, even ones that aren't in bankruptcy need to move their stuff because before you know it, it's going to be fall and winter and they want to get rid of some inventory. So, I think there are deals everywhere. You're right. I would not just limit your looking to online consignment shops. You can find deals all over the place right now on clothes. So, Ryan, I think you have some deals on investing to talk about.
Ryan Ermey: Well, there was one investing thing that stuck out to me and our colleague, Nellie Huang, also wrote up some bargain priced stocks, made a case for preferred stocks, which is very good. You should check that out in the magazine. I wrote about brokerage deals which we've already talked about on the podcast. But, an interesting one for me was that Fidelity (opens in new tab) just launched a bunch of mutual funds with expense ratios that decrease the longer that you hold the fund, which I think is a pretty awesome idea. It's to encourage buy and hold investing. So . . .
Sandy Block: It's a loyalty bonus, yeah.
Ryan Ermey: Exactly. The eight new Fidelity funds invest in line with specific themes across sectors, countries and company size. Fidelity Disruptive Automation, for example, investS in companies that design to make tools and processes for robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous driving among other things, Nellie writes. We also have Fidelity Disruptive Medicine, which is something that people I think are probably very interested in right now. Firms involved in robotic surgery, genomics, rare diseases, and each is run by a team of Fidelity managers that specialize in the sectors. The longer you hold, as I said, the lower the fee. So, the disruptive funds expense ratio starts at 1% of assets, but drops to 0.75% after one year and 0.50% after three years. Whereas the typical sector fund charges an average expense ratio of 1.3%. They're already below average to begin with. I like the idea of a fund that. I mean, you say it's like a loyalty bonus, but it's also in line with what we consider to be good investor behavior.
Sandy Block: Right.
Ryan Ermey: You're incentivized, essentially, to do the thing that has been proven to be successful for investors over time. So, good on Fidelity and certainly a deal. Be sure to check out our entire deals round up in the July issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance. We have investing deals. We have deals on food delivery, home gyms and home offices. Anything you can think of, we got it. So be sure to check it out. If it's up in time, we'll be pulling it up in the show notes, as well.
Ryan Ermey: Stick around, because Sandy takes on a tax-themed Jeopardy category after the break.
Ryan Ermey: We are back and before we go, one of our rarer closing segments, and the first time we're going to do it just the two of us, usually have some competition, Sandy, we have another round of personal finance-based Jeopardy questions.
Sandy Block: Oh boy.
Ryan Ermey: For people who haven't listened before, you and I are both huge Jeopardy fans.
Sandy Block: Yes, we are. You have been on Jeopardy and I have . . .
Ryan Ermey: I was on Jeopardy in an unsuccessful appearance. I shouldn't say unsuccessful. I answered a lot of them right, but I did not win. So, I'm still working here and not counting my hundreds of thousands of dollars that I would have . . .
Sandy Block: Although you have cleaned up on the office trivia and I have to say, Ryan, I have been a big . . . that is I have just really been terrible at it, but you are . . . at the rate you're going, you're going to have enough Amazon gift cards to buy groceries . . .
Ryan Ermey: Yeah, me and James Holzhauer can . . . we're both pretty much similar level. Him on "Jeopardy." Me on office trivia. Yeah. I have $50 on Amazon gift cards. Woohoo. So, the category, Sandy, is one that is up your alley. I wouldn't try to trip you up.
Sandy Block: Good.
Ryan Ermey: It is taxes from the January 24th, 2014 airing . . . so, we have . . . this is the first round of Jeopardy. So, we have $200, $400, $600, $800 and $1,000 clue values and no daily doubles. So Sandy, the board is yours.
Sandy Block: Let's start with $200, Alex.
Ryan Ermey: This numerical IRS form is the U.S. individual return for filing income tax. Hand me the easy one.
Sandy Block: What is 1040, Alex?
Ryan Ermey: Bingo. 1040 is correct. Now, Sandy, when do people have . . . how long do people have to file their taxes given the extension? This isn't a Jeopardy quiz. This is just things that we know.
Sandy Block: Well, the reason I hesitated is because this year not as long because this year the tax deadline is July 15th. You have until October to file the extension. So normally, it's six months.
Ryan Ermey: So there you have it. I just wanted to let people know that, yes, you have until July. There's been . . . I didn't mean the extension extension. I meant the cares act kind of . . . the . . .
Sandy Block: Oh, this year? They have until July 15th which is coming up, folks.
Ryan Ermey: All right. The board is still yours.
Sandy Block: Okay. Let's go . . . I'll do a James. Let's go right to $1,000.
Ryan Ermey: Okay. To ensure that those who get tax breaks pay at least a certain amount, Kiplinger has called it the tax we love to hate.
Sandy Block: That would be what is the alternative minimum tax.
Ryan Ermey: Exactly. I'll tell you what, Sandy, I was really hoping that you had written that.
Sandy Block: I don't think so.
Ryan Ermey: I thought that there was a chance.
Sandy Block: I don't think I did, because I think that predates me. I think Kiplinger has used that term since, I don't know, the IRS was created or something.
Ryan Ermey: Well, it was our good friend Mary Beth Franklin, who no longer works at Kiplinger, but yeah, the alternative minimum tax still around for the current tax year and next, next year.
Sandy Block: It's pretty limited. Yeah, it's . . . After the tax overhaul, hardly anybody has to pay it anymore. So, most of you don't have to worry about it. You don't have to worry about hating it because it's only affects a very small number of taxpayers anymore.
Ryan Ermey: Yeah. The exemption amounts for single filers in 2019, $510,000, the phase out begins at phase out for married couples over a million dollars.
Sandy Block: Okay. So, I'll take taxes for $400, Ryan.
Ryan Ermey: Widely used in the European Union, the VAT stands for this.
Sandy Block: That would be what is the value added tax.
Ryan Ermey: Yes, indeed. Sandy, I don't know if you remember, but you've actually written about this a little bit before in Kiplinger's.
Sandy Block: I have written about it, because it pops up periodically. It is . . . Ryan, as much as you've traveled, I suspect you have run into the VAT a few times.
Ryan Ermey: Oh, yes.
Sandy Block: But, it is a way that a lot of other countries raise revenue. Periodically, there has been conversations in this country about putting a VAT on our . .. it's our goods and services. It's kind of a different version of a sales tax. There's been pushback against it, but it does come up from time to time when lawmakers are looking for a way to raise more revenue. One of the reasons it's appealing is because like sales taxes, it is a consumption tax. You pay it on things that you buy or services that you use.
Ryan Ermey: All right. The $600 and $800 clues remain.
Sandy Block: Okay. I'll take the $800.
Ryan Ermey: Informal three letter name for a tax on alcohol, tobacco, or other activities considered not beneficial to users or society.
Sandy Block: I think that would be the sin tax, Ryan.
Ryan Ermey: Now, that wasn't in the form of a question, but you are quite right.
Sandy Block: What is a sin tax . . .
Ryan Ermey: The sin tax. Right. So, pretty much baked right into the question there, but as the reason that in some states alcohol, especially cigarettes it seems are . . .
Sandy Block: Cigarettes for sure.
Ryan Ermey: . . . quite a bit more expensive.
Sandy Block: It's been popular with state lawmakers because as a way to raise revenue, because it's sort of . . . particularly with cigarettes, I think, people see it as a dual benefit. You raise a lot of money and you discourage the activity. There's a big debate about whether we should actually use our tax code to encourage or discourage things, but there's no . . . if you've ever stood behind somebody buying a pack of cigarettes at the gas station and I have, then you know that it does discourage activity because I don't know how anybody can afford to smoke anymore, depending on what state you're in. It can be just amazingly expensive to buy cigarettes now. It's not because of the cost of cigarettes, it's because of the taxes.
Ryan Ermey: All right. Your final clue, don't cheat the tax man, this jungle fever actor didn't file from 1997 to 2004 and was sentenced to three years in jail.
Sandy Block: Oh my gosh. You know what? I think I'm going to get this one wrong because I can picture him, but I can't remember . . . oh, geez. I'm totally drawing a blank on this.
Ryan Ermey: He was in "Blade." He was in "White Man Can't Jump."
Sandy Block: I know. I know. I could draw him right now. I just can't . . . I'm sorry. I think I'm going to lose on this one.
Ryan Ermey: Oh, out of time.
Sandy Block: I know.
Ryan Ermey: Sandy . . .
Sandy Block: What is it? What is it?
Ryan Ermey: . . . Wesley Snipes (opens in new tab).
Sandy Block: Wesley Snipes. "White Men Can't Jump." Yes, of course.
Ryan Ermey: I love that movie.
Sandy Block: Yes and Wesley Snipes . . . and actually it was an interesting story, because Wesley Snipes -- he fought back. This story went on for months and months and months and months. If you were reading it and following it, and I . . . following tax, celebrity tax problems are . . . that's what counts for good fun in my world. You just kept thinking, "Come on, Wesley, just pay. You can afford it. Blade, you made a lot of money, dude." But, he fought. I think he actually embraced some theories that have been rejected time and time again in court, where basically saying that there's . . . that it's unconstitutional to charge income tax. He went for broke and he was broke because I don't think he won.
Ryan Ermey: Yeah. I tried to look around our content to see if we had any Wesley Snipes related content at Kiplinger.com and we don't, unfortunately, although we do have a slide show that we'll put in the show notes about eight ways you might be cheating on your taxes which include . . .
Sandy Block: Even if you're not Wesley Snipes.
Ryan Ermey: We're assuming that people are, "Oh, maybe I can fudge this or something." Not just not filing for years, but we have not reporting taxable income, failing to report tips if you're a tipped worker, paying household employees under the table, overvaluing charitable donations, improper deductions of volunteer work, deducting hobby expenses, forgetting to report gambling winnings. "Oops, I forgot."
Sandy Block: Well, that's winnings, Ryan. I don't know that you have that much to report.
Ryan Ermey: Oh, yeah. No, I never have those. Yeah. So, those are the ones that we have. We don't have just not filing for years and years. So, you should be filing your taxes.
Sandy Block: You should be filing. If there are any celebrities out there listening to this, you should definitely pay your taxes, because one of the ways that the IRS and other enforcement agencies try to bring their message home is going after high profile cases. They can't go after every tax cheat out there, they just don't have the resources. But if they go after one that gets a lot of publicity, that puts the fear of God into everybody else. So, if you're a high-profile person, don't cheat on your taxes because people are looking and you could be on the news for a reason you don't want to be.
Ryan Ermey: Well, congratulations, Sandy. You definitely know your stuff. I won't ding you too much for not remembering Wesley Snipes.
Sandy Block: I was closing in. I was closing in on Wesley Snipes.
Ryan Ermey: Yeah.
Sandy Block: He's been out of the picture for such a long time, you know?
Ryan Ermey: Yeah.
Sandy Block: When was last time you saw Wesley Snipes in anything?
Ryan Ermey: Yeah. It's been a minute for sure. I'm a big fan. If Wesley Snipes is out there . . . if Wesley Snipes is a listener to the podcast -- please, Wesley, I'll send you stuff from "White Men Can't Jump" to sign for me. So we'll have everything that we talked about today up in the show notes. Sandy, congratulations. You won an imaginary amount of money. Until next time, folks.
Ryan Ermey: That'll do it for this episode of Your Money's Worth. For show notes and more great Kiplinger content on the topics we discussed on today's show, visit Kiplinger.com/links/podcasts. You can stay connected with us on Twitter (opens in new tab), Facebook (opens in new tab) or by emailing us at email@example.com (opens in new tab). If you like the show, please remember to rate, review and subscribe to Your Money's Worth wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening.
Links and resources mentioned in this episode
- Donate to Charity and Cut Your Tax Bill (opens in new tab)
- Giving to Charity When You're on a Budget (opens in new tab)
- Make the Most of Your Donor Dollars (opens in new tab)
- 52 Super Deals and Discounts for 2020 (opens in new tab)
- Does Your State Have a Sin Tax? (opens in new tab)
- Can You Dodge the AMT Bullet? (opens in new tab)
- 2020 Tax Deadline: When Are Tax Returns Due This Year? (opens in new tab)
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