Must be a valid email address.
Password must be 8-64 characters.
Must be a valid phone number.
Recession incoming? Here’s how you can prepare.
Daily Capital
Home>Daily Capital>Taxes & Insurance>Tax-Wise Charitable Giving: Donating Appreciated Assets

Tax-Wise Charitable Giving: Donating Appreciated Assets

This year amidst the coronavirus pandemic, there are many worthy causes for charitable giving.

That’s why the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) created several incentives for people to help financially, including a charitable deduction of up to $300 in cash donations in 2020. Generally, you need to itemize to take the charitable deduction, which fewer people do since the standard deduction doubled a few years ago – now at $12,400 for single filers and $24,800 for married couples filing jointly in 2020.

If you’re like me, you don’t give money to charity just to receive tax benefits. This doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t take advantage of tax breaks you could receive by making charitable contributions.

One potentially smart – but often overlooked – charitable-giving tax break comes through donating appreciated assets instead of giving cash or checks to nonprofit organizations. These assets may include real estate, common stock or other securities. This strategy can result in benefits for both you and the charities to which you give.

Benefits from Donating Appreciated Assets

What are the benefits of using this strategy? The qualified charitable organization of your choice can receive the full benefit of the appreciated asset’s current market value, while you may be able to save capital gains taxes of up to 15% or 20% on the appreciation. You may also be able to deduct more than what you paid for the asset, and you won’t have to deplete your cash accounts to make the gift, which can give you more financial flexibility.

An Example of the Benefits

Here’s an example that helps illustrate the potential tax benefits of this strategy. Let’s say you are in the 15% capital gains tax bracket and bought a stock in 2009 for $5,000. With the big gains in the stock market since then, this stock has quadrupled in value and is now worth $20,000.

If you sold the stock and gave the proceeds to charity, you would pay capital gains taxes of $2,250 on the sale. As a result, you’d only have $17,750 to donate instead of the full $20,000.

But if you transfer ownership of the stock directly to the qualified charitable organization, then neither you nor the charity will have to pay capital gains taxes on the $15,000 in appreciation, which means the charity will receive the entire $20,000 gift. Meanwhile, you can deduct the full $20,000 value of the stock – not just the $5,000 you paid for the stock over a decade ago.

And don’t forget the fact that this strategy preserves your cash balances, which you could keep in your contingency fund or use for other savings goals.

Potential Limitations

Keep in mind that this strategy only works with appreciated stocks that you have owned for more than one year within a taxable account and if you claim itemized deductions rather than the standard deduction. If you give a short-term position – one that you have owned for 365 days or less – you will only be able to deduct the cost basis. In other words, it will be what you originally paid for it – not what it’s worth now.

Our Take

With the big run-up in stock values over recent months, this strategy of donating appreciated assets might be even more applicable now than usual. Before taking action, you should speak with a tax and/or investment professional about the details of implementing this charitable giving strategy.

Now is also a good time to take a deeper look at your investment portfolio. You can do so by joining millions of people in using Personal Capital’s free online tools. Personal Capital’s Investment Checkup will analyze your investment portfolio and past performance to compare it to a benchmark and make recommendations.

Ready to take control of your finances?

Get Your Free Tools

The content contained in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not meant to constitute legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. You should consult a qualified legal or tax professional regarding your specific situation. Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.

Any reference to the advisory services refers to Personal Capital Advisors Corporation, a subsidiary of Personal Capital. Personal Capital Advisors Corporation is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training nor does it imply endorsement by the SEC.

Gregory DePalma is the Private Client Group Manager at Personal Capital. He provides holistic financial planning services for individuals and families. Prior to Personal Capital he was a stockbroker at Scottrade and served as a Financial Advisor specializing in student aid and education funding. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis with a double major in Economics and Sociology. Gregory is a CFP® professional.
Icon Close

To learn what personal information Personal Capital collects, please see our privacy policy for details.

Ask Us Anything

We want to hear from you.

What finance question is burning a hole in your pocket?

Thank you for sharing what’s on your mind!

Our team will be in touch shortly.