First, let me acknowledge that this is horrible timing. The last week of Advent is probably the worst time of the year to discuss tax-wise giving, but I strongly encourage you to share the information below with your congregation this week. I don’t suggest re-writing your Christmas Eve sermon to discuss end of the year tax strategies (but if you do, send me a copy; I’d love to read it), but perhaps you can put the following in your bulletin, email it to your members or put it on your church social media page.
Please don’t mess with the technical information, but certainly feel free to adjust the third and fifth paragraphs to discuss the various options for generosity in your particular congregation.
New Tax Laws Provide an Opportunity
New Tax Reform Legislation raises the standard deduction for income taxes beginning in 2018. The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the number of taxpayers who will itemize their deductions in 2018 (and thereby get tax savings from charitable gifts) will fall from 40 million under current law to just 9 million under the new legislation.
If you currently itemize, and are financially able to do so, consider giving some or all of next year’s gifts to the church before the end of this year. You can claim your gifts on your 2017 taxes (due April of 2018) and give the church a boost.
This can be done for regular offering, or for special gifts such as for a capital campaign or endowment.
To qualify, the gift must be made by the end of this year, given in worship on or before December 31 or postmarked no later than December 30. The check should be dated in 2017 and indicate on the memo line “2018 offering” or other designation.
When in doubt, reach out to the church office to clarify your intentions.