5 ways to get smart when giving at year-end

Considering a last-minute donation? You’ve still got time. Here are a few tips on the best way to proceed.

The end of the year has arrived. Here are a handful of charitable donation strategies to consider if you want to boost your deductions for 2018:

1. Audit-proof your claims. The IRS imposes strict substantiation rules for charitable donations. In fact, you’re required to keep records for all monetary contributions, no matter how small. The best approach is to obtain written documentation for every donation.

2. Charge it. The deductible amount for 2018 includes charitable gifts charged by credit card before the end of the year. This covers online contributions using a credit card. So you can claim a current deduction for donations made as late as Dec. 31.

3. Give away appreciated stock. Generally, you can deduct the fair market value (FMV) of capital gains property owned longer than one year. For instance, if you acquired stock 10 years ago for $1,000 and it’s now worth $5,000, you can deduct the full $5,000. The appreciation in value isn’t taxed.

4. Sell depreciated stock. Conversely, it usually doesn’t make sense to donate stock that has declined in value, because you won’t receive any tax benefit for the loss. Instead, you might sell the stock and donate the proceeds. This entitles you to a capital loss on your 2018 return, plus the charitable deduction.