“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was first recorded in 1963 by Andy Williams, still performing at the Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri. It has been “covered,” as they say in the music business, countless times by such varied performers as country singer Garth Brooks and Muppets characters Rizzo the Rat and The Great Gonzo. A parody of the song was released in 1997 by Bob Rivers and Richard Simmons (yes, that Richard Simmons), entitled, appropriately, “It’s the Most Fattening Time of the Year.”
For many Florida Conference churches and other charitable organizations, December can rightly be called “the most generous time of the year.” As you consider end-of-year gifts and personal tax planning, please consider a gift to your local United Methodist Church and to the Together! For Kids and Camps capital campaign in support of Conference Camping and Retreat Ministries (for more information, go to www.fumf.org/together).
According to the Sharpe Group, a planned giving consultancy, “By carefully considering what you give and the timing of your gifts, you may discover that you can make gifts you may not have thought possible.”
Gifts of Cash
If you made a pledge for calendar year 2011, and your economic situation allows, please consider paying your pledge in full by the end of the year. No matter your income level, if you itemize deductions on your tax return, you will receive a tax deduction for your gift.
Gifts of Appreciated Securities
Gifts of appreciated securities (shares of individual stocks, bonds, mutual funds) are very attractive tax-wise. If you give appreciated securities to your church, not only do you receive an income tax deduction for the full value of your gift but you also avoid the capital gain tax were you to have sold the securities yourself. When you give stock to the church, the church sells it tax-free and receives the full value of the gift. If you own stock that has gone down in value you may be able to sell the stock, make a gift from the cash proceeds to your church, and apply the realized loss on your 2011 tax return. Please be sure to check with your financial advisor before making any securities gifts or transactions to see which strategies are best for you. Many Florida Conference churches are able to receive securities electronically, but if your church does not have that capability, the Foundation is ready to assist you in making such a gift.
Gifts from Your Will or Living Trust
Consider a bequest from your will or other estate planning vehicle. A bequest is an excellent way to “leave your legacy” to your church as a statement of lifelong, comprehensive Christian stewardship. If you already have a will, a simple codicil is all that is required to make a bequest. If you don’t have a will, we strongly encourage you to have one written, and please consider a bequest to your church when you do so.
Gifts from Retirement Plans
If you are 70 ½ years old or older and are required to take distributions from your IRA, consider making a gift to your church from those proceeds. Legislation scheduled to expire at the end of 2011 makes it possible to make tax-free gifts directly from your traditional or Roth IRA. Check with your plan administrator or the Foundation for details.
Make a Gift Now and Spread Out Grants Over Time
A Donor Advised Fund administered by the Foundation enables you to make a tax-deductible gift now and make subsequent gift distributions to qualified organizations over time. You make an initial gift to the Foundation, then advise us from time to time on how you would like that gift to be distributed. The Fund will be invested and can be expected to grow over time. You or others may add to the Fund at any time. A Donor Advised Fund is a convenient, low-cost alternative to a family foundation. You may advise us to make distributions to your local United Methodist church or other agency or mission, as well as to other qualified charities. Your Donor Advised Fund can become a permanent fund at the Foundation, as you may name children or other family members as successor advisors after your death.
Make a Gift That Will Pay You Income for Life
Life income arrangements, like charitable trusts and charitable gift annuities, combine a gift to your church with income to you or loved ones. These are excellent planned giving alternatives that not only benefit your church, but also include income and tax benefits for you or your family.
As always, we encourage you to check with your own professional advisors before making a gift.
Together, let’s make this Advent and Christmas season a memorably generous time of the year!
For more information, please contact your local church office; or call, click or write the Florida United Methodist Foundation at 1-866-363-9673, www.fumf.org, or PO Box 3549, Lakeland, FL 33802.