Gifts to Charity: How to Get the Tax Break You Deserve

Making gifts to charity can be a winning move at tax time, but make sure you have the documentation you need.

Jan 25, 2014 at 1:35PM

Making gifts to charity is one of the most popular ways people use to cut their taxes. But to make sure you get the tax break you deserve when you make a gift to charity, you need to know the IRS rules that tell you what records you need to keep.

In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, talks about the documentation requirements for making deductible charitable gifts. Dan notes that for any monetary gift, it's important to have a bank record or written communication verifying the gift. For gifts of $250 or more, you need to receive a written acknowledgment of the contribution from the charitable organization. Dan notes that for big gifts of property above $5,000, you need a qualified appraisal to justify the amount taken. Dan concludes by noting that special rules exist for gifts of motor vehicles, which have gotten increasingly popular but were also popular targets for abuse.

Be smart about your taxes for 2014
Making the most of your gifts to charity is just one way you can cut your tax bill to Uncle Sam. In our brand-new special report "How You Can Fight Back Against Higher Taxes," The Motley Fool's tax experts run through what to watch out for in doing your tax planning this year. With its concrete advice on how to cut taxes for decades to come, you won't want to miss out. Click here to get your copy today -- it's absolutely free.

Neither The Motley Fool nor Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has any position in any stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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