The Weekly View (10/9/17)

What’s On Our Minds:

Donating Appreciated Securities

This time of year, charities may begin hounding you to make your annual donations. Have you ever considered donating appreciated securities? It’s a tax efficient way to support charities.  Read on to learn how you might be able to “kill two birds with one stone” utilizing this strategy.

Charitable giving provides donors with tax relief every tax season in the form of deductions. In an effort to encourage positive social action, the IRS provides incentives for all kinds of charitable contributions, from monetary donations to used cars. You can even donate your appreciated securities (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. that have risen in value) to the charity of your choice. Long-term appreciated securities are the most common non-cash donations, and they can be the best way for donors to give more to their chosen charities. The tax advantages to donating stocks are such that both the donor and the charity benefit.

What are the benefits?

Donating appreciated securities yields two tax benefits for the donor. The first tax benefit is the elimination of capital gains tax. Normally when you sell an appreciated stock, you pay capital gains tax on the amount your securities have increased in value since being purchased. For example, if you bought stocks for a total of $1,000 and then sold them years later for $5,000, you would owe capital gains tax on $4,000 of income from the sale. This tax can add up significantly depending on what tax bracket you fall under, how many stocks you sell and how much they’ve appreciated over time. When you donate appreciated securities, however, you don’t owe any capital gains tax, no matter how much they’ve increased in value. The charity receiving your donation is free from capital gains tax on your contribution as well.

Tax Deductions

The second tax benefit is writing off the donation on your tax return. As long as you itemize, you can deduct charitable contributions on your return, and the more you donate, the more you can deduct. In this case, you’ll be donating more since you can donate the entire value of the asset, not the value minus taxes. Thus, your tax write-off will be greater. In other words, you can take a charitable deduction on money that hasn’t been taxed. This also benefits the charity, because they’ll get a larger donation than they’d otherwise receive.

There is a limit to how much you can deduct for charitable contributions, which varies depending on what you’re giving and what organization you’re donating to. Most organizations are subject to a 50 percent limit, meaning your charitable tax deduction cannot exceed 50 percent of your adjusted gross income. Other organizations have a 30 percent limit. You can check with the IRS or ask the organization themselves to be sure. These limits apply to monetary charitable donations. If you’re donating appreciated securities, the limits change; a 50 percent organization’s limit becomes 30 percent for appreciated securities, and a 30 percent organization’s limit moves to 20 percent.

Reducing Risk

Another benefit to donating your appreciated securities is reducing risk in your portfolio. If too much of your portfolio is dedicated to a certain kind of investment, your risk increases because your portfolio is less diversified, so your assets are all relying on that one kind of investment to succeed. To decrease that risk, you’d normally have to sell the stocks and pay capital gains taxes. Donating them, on the other hand, is a tax-free way to rebalance your portfolio.

Last Week’s Highlights:

Equity markets hit record highs again last week.  Stocks continue to “climb a wall of worry” but investors got some encouraging economic data releases last week. Reports showed stronger than expected trends in the automotive, manufacturing, and service sectors.  Friday’s job report was weaker than expected but that was attributed to the effects of the recent hurricanes in the southeast.


Looking Ahead:

Earning season is upon us!  We will kick things off with Delta and BlackRock on Wednesday. Thursday we will see earnings from JPMorgan and Citigroup and then Bank of America and Well Fargo on Friday.  Also on Friday, the U.S. Census Bureau will announce retail sales numbers for September. August’s figures showed a 0.2% dip from July to August, but an increase of 3.2% from August 2016.  We will also see how the American consumer is feeling with the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment figure for October. Their survey found a 1.7% dip in confidence from August to September so it will be interesting if things change course.