The U.S. tax rules support charity and philanthropy with tax benefits. If you itemize deductions on your income tax return, you can simply deduct the value of gifts to tax-exempt charitable organizations. There are also more sophisticated ways to support your favorite recipients. For example, charitable gift annuities allow you to donate to a charity and in return receive regular payments for life: both you and the charity benefit.
When you make a simple direct charitable contribution, you support the charity of your choice and you can deduct the amount of these gifts from your taxable income if you itemize your deductions. Claiming a charitable deduction is simple when you write a check to a charity or make an online donation with your credit card. For a cash gift of any amount, you need a receipt (showing the date and amount of your donation) or a bank or credit card statement, payroll deduction record, cancelled check, or other bank record showing the transaction.
There is some risk in these instruments: they do not have FDIC protection or a government guarantee on charitable gift annuities, and so if the charitable institution runs out of money and files for bankruptcy or closes down, you would lose all future annuity payments. Some charities carry insurance to cover annuity payments. The payments can start immediately, or be deferred until you reach a certain age. Typically, payments are made quarterly.
Each charity sets a minimum amount you must donate (usually starting at $5,000 or higher) and a minimum age (typically 50 or older). If you are younger than the minimum age, you can donate now, but defer the payment of benefits until the required age. You’ll still get a tax deduction for your charitable gift now, and if your donation grows (as it’s invested by the charity) you won’t owe tax on the increase in value. If you donate financial assets that appreciate in value (stocks, bonds, etc.), you won’t owe capital gains tax when you make the transfer. A portion of the annuity payments aren’t taxable because they are treated as a refund of the principal you gave to the charity. After you reach your statistical life expectancy, however, you’ll pay tax on the payments as ordinary income.
Charitable trusts are an option for the wealthy to donate charity while reducing their estate tax obligations. A charitable lead annuity trust gives you a way to make a large gift to charity, get a tax break, and eventually leave assets to family members. These trusts are complicated, and they’re most often used by the rich who want to donate to charity and avoid the federal gift and estate taxes.
You may also set up a charitable remainder trust and transfer to it the property you want to donate to a charity. The charity must have tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code. The charity serves as trustee of the trust, and manages or invests the property so it will produce income for you. The charity pays you (or your designee) a portion of the income generated by the trust property for a certain number of years, or for your whole life. At death, the property goes to the charity.
A pooled income charitable trust allows a charity to set up the trust and then accept donations that are much smaller than a charitable trust founded by an individual. All the donations are pooled into one big fund and then invested, much like a mutual fund. The fund then pays income to the donors, based on its return on investment. Typically, they also allow you to add small subsequent contributions over time, so you can still build a good retirement income over many donations over many years.
A charitable gift annuity is a contract between you and the charity. You donate to the charity, and in return the charity agrees to make regular fixed payments to you (or a designee) for your lifetime. When you make your initial gift, you can take an immediate income tax deduction for the estimated amount that will eventually go to the charity, after all the annuity payments have been made (typically half the amount put into the annuity). A portion of the payments you receive will also be tax-free, until you reach your statistical life expectancy.
Source: 1-2-Law: https://www.12law.com