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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 raised the standard deduction for US taxpayers and capped the state and local tax deduction at $10,000. This greatly reduced the number of taxpayers who itemize on their tax return and caused a major reduction in charitable giving.

Taxpayers who itemize can reduce their income by the amount that they give to eligible charities and charitable organizations, and thus pay less in taxes.


When you pay taxes you (or let's be real – your accountants) add up all of your deductions (charity donations, student loan interest, et cetera) and if it's more than the standard deduction of $12,400 for single people ($24,800 for married couples filing jointly), you can reduce your income by that amount and pay taxes on that amount.

Since the standard deduction is now higher, less people are itemizing all their deductions as they don't expect to exceed the standard deduction. This disincentives people from giving to charities as they won't be able to use that donation to lower their tax burden.

This year offers a special opportunity thanks to the CARES Act.

The CARES Act was passed in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and offered a special incentive for people to give more to charities, many of which are facing more demand than ever as the pandemic rages on.

Starting in 2020, up to $300 in charitable contributions may be used as an above-the-line deduction, meaning that you would be able to deduct up to $300 in charity donations and mutual funds even if you take the standard deduction.

Let's say you are a single person that lives in Washington State and make $60,000 a year. Your top Federal tax rate is 22% and you pay no state tax in Washington.

Now, you're very likely to take a standard deduction of $12,400, meaning you would only need to pay taxes on $47,600 of adjusted gross income, lowering your tax bill by $2,728 (22% of $12,400).

But, thanks to the CARES Act, if you also give $300 in charitable contributions to charity this year, you would be able to deduct that money as well, reducing your taxes by an additional $66.


Donating Cash to Charity cashcentral.com


A few caveats with this. First, you have to give to a qualified public charity. Check on their website that you are giving to a 501(c)3 organization before you give. You can also check on the IRS website for a list of organizations you may be able to donate to.

Second, it has to be cash giving, so giving your old sweater to Goodwill unfortunately doesn't count. Third, if you give over $250 to an organization, you have to get a "written acknowledgement" of the gift. That just means you want to be sure to ask for a receipt when you send the money to the charity.

A lot of charities have been hit very hard because of COVID-19, and making sure that they have the resources available to continue to help people can be really important for the people who rely on the generosity of others.

With the CARES Act, you can help make sure that charities you believe in are able to continue their work while also saving yourself money come tax time. It might be time to speak with a financial advisor to set charitable goals for 2020 and 2021.

If interested in opening a charitable giving account, we recommend Fidelity Charitable. They can help identify private foundations and charities to support, as well as recommend grants. Over time you can grow your donor advised funds, tax free and look into donating stocks or donating with a credit card.


Fidelity Charitable also provides a helpful charitable giving tax savings calculator.

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Spring may be the most popular time to list, but people need to buy homes in every season. Follow some simple steps to get your home sold in the winter.

Sometimes there is no choice—a home needs to be sold in the winter.

Spring may be the most popular time to put your house on the market, but homes do sell in the colder months. With fewer houses available, your home may be someone's only choice when house hunting in your neighborhood. As your neighbors hold out until spring, you'll already be done and ready to shop for your next house!

Here are a few tips for selling a home in the winter to get you on the right track.

Keep Paths Safe and Landscaping Fresh

Landscaping is the last thing on a homeowner's mind in the winter. Everything was cut back in the fall and may now be covered in snow. Still, take a walk around the house and yard to check everything out. Branches may have fallen from heavy snow, leaving a mess in the yard. Keep everything neat and tidy.

The last thing you need is a potential buyer slipping on the ice-covered walk in front of your house. Buyers often consider those moments bad omens, and this can affect their decisions. Shovel, snow blow, spread salt—do whatever you have to do to keep the driveway and walking paths clear, and don't forget the porch and deck.

Make the Inside Warm and Cozy

In cold weather, buyers won't spend a lot of time examining a home's exterior. Instead, impress them with the inside by creating an atmosphere which causes them to want to move in.

When there's time, leave wintery types of snacks and drinks, such as hot cocoa and cookies, available on a table during showings. This gives your home a welcoming feel to buyers.

Light the fireplace (if you have one) for a lovely ambience and set your thermostat to a comfortable setting. A warm home in the winter is much more appealing than a chilly one.

Make Your Home Less Personal

Understandably, this can be a tough thought for homeowners. After all, you've spent years creating memories in your home. To buyers, though, they need to picture it as their own. Too much personality makes that difficult.

It's always important to stage your home in a way that makes it look clean, comfortable, and move-in ready. Don't feel offended by the idea of taking family pictures down and replacing them with generic décor. This will help your home sell faster by helping buyers envision their own things there.

Cleanliness and Maintenance

Clean, clean, and clean some more. Make appliances, counters, and floors shine. No matter how old your home is, it needs to feel like new to potential buyers. If you aren't into dusting, now is the time to try. Don't forget window coverings that might need washing.

Be prepared ahead of time for home inspections by taking care of maintenance now. HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical should all be up to code and running smoothly.

Use these tips for selling a home in the winter, exercise patience during the slower months, and your home will sell before you know it.

Entering your 20s means you'll quickly need to learn how to navigate the world of personal finances, much of which you probably didn't learn in college or high school courses.

Without any previous lessons on finances, it can be challenging to know where to start. Follow this guide as we outline the financial decisions you'll need to make in your 20s.

Setting a Budget

The first step to being a fiscally responsible young adult is setting a budget. Your budget will determine many future financial decisions, from where you can live to what splurges you can make. Look at the expenses you currently owe every month and your projected income to determine how much you should be spending on bills, daily expenses, etc.

Tackling Debt

Getting rid of your debt as early as possible is a critical step for newly independent 20-year-olds. However, some may not be able to get rid of debt as soon as they hope. Once again, look at your budget, then decide if you'd like to put more toward tackling debt now or pay your loans as they come.

Getting Coverage

While you may be able to hold onto your parents' insurance until 26, you'll have to choose your own plans sooner or later. From health insurance to renter's and car insurance, you shouldn't skip an opportunity to cover yourself in the case of an accident. Find a provider and plan you're comfortable with, and get your coverage as soon as possible.

Saving for a Rainy Day

Navigating how to save is another critical financial decision you'll have to make in your 20s. Living paycheck to paycheck is not a sustainable course of action. Even putting a small portion of your wages into a savings account can make a big difference—especially if an emergency you didn't prepare for occurs.

Starting To Invest

Investing is a scary topic for young adults, but it's a great way to build wealth. Starting to invest as a young adult will set you up for success on your long-term financial plan. However, be sure to conduct research before jumping into the market to decide when, where, and how much you'd like to invest.

Your 20s are an optimal time to learn and grow. One area of life you'll undoubtedly learn a lot about is managing finances. Use this guide to help you get started on the path to becoming a fiscally responsible adult.

Tax deductions can be tricky to understand if you're new to the finance world.

One of the biggest sources of confusion is knowing what you can and can't deduct from your taxes. Deductions can be a massive financial boon for a lot of people, yet not everyone files for them correctly. This causes people to miss out on money that should be theirs. We'll go over some of the most common tax deductions that are overlooked, so you don't get shortchanged when Tax Day comes.

Charitable Contributions

When you start regularly giving to charity, even if the donations are small, you'll want to start getting itemized receipts for your donations. These receipts will help you write off these charitable contributions on your taxes. You can even write off supplies that you bought for use in a charitable cause or any miles you drove on your car while in service to a charity. Make those donations to the Purple Heart Pickup with an open heart, but make sure you get your deduction on top of that.

Student Loan Interest Payments

Student loans take up a significant amount of a lot of people's money. If you're one of these people, make sure that you get a deduction on the amount of interest you paid off in the last year. What's important to remember is that even if you aren't someone's dependent, you can write off the money someone else gave you to pay for said student loans. If someone else helped you pay off part of your loan, don't think that means you can't still get a deduction on that sum.

Child and Dependent Care Credit

If you have a reimbursement account through your job that pays for child or dependent care, you might be forgiven for forgetting about this particular tax credit. However, you can use these funds for a tax credit if you file for them correctly. This is hugely important because this is an opportunity to receive a full tax credit, not just a deduction. You're losing money you could be directly receiving if you don't file for this credit.

Jury Pay Given to Your Employer

A lesser-known tax deduction that often gets overlooked is the money you can deduct from jury pay you gave to your employer. It may not be the most exciting thing to come out of jury duty, especially after handing over any money you receive to your employer, but you do get to deduct however much money your employer made you hand over after you finished jury duty.

Credit for Saving

While this credit is more for people that are working part-time or for those that have a retired spouse, you can get a tax credit for contributing to a 401(k) or another retirement savings plan. This is also a great incentive for those that are just starting out in their careers and need another reason to start saving for the future.