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Smart tips to help maximize your charitable giving — and your tax benefits

As the end of the year approaches, you’ve probably noticed your inbox filling up with requests from charities asking for year-end donations. Giving is important, especially now. Like so many people, you may find yourself stressed as you scramble to locate receipts and track contributions to document your tax deductions for 2023. You may also discover that organizing your giving differently could have resulted in greater tax benefits.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize your tax deductions, be more intentional about your giving, and reduce stress not just in December, but throughout the year.

Organizing your giving with a charitable tax vehicle that offers an immediate tax deduction. 

If you support multiple charities, consider using a vehicle to streamline your philanthropy. One option is a private foundation, which enables you to put aside money in advance, take a tax deduction up front, and plan your grant-making over time. But the drawback is that private foundations are costly to set up, and you will still need to manage your record-keeping and tax filings. A simpler option is a donor advised fund, which organizes your charitable giving, eliminates record-keeping, and doesn’t require filing a 990 form. That’s why donor advised funds (DAFs) are the fastest-growing charitable vehicle.

Donor advised funds help get money to your charities swiftly and securely. 

Donor advised funds (DAFs) are a flexible and tax-efficient way to give, and most DAFs can be opened with a minimum contribution of $5,000. When you contribute to a DAF you qualify for an immediate deduction, regardless of when and how many charities you support. The DAF provides the only receipt you’ll need. Most DAF accounts are managed on a secure portal. At Jewish Communal Fund, you can make grants and see your giving and contribution history when you log in. You can recommend grants to IRS-approved charities in every sector.

Donate cash or appreciated securities to maximize your tax savings and earn tax-free income.

Cash contributions to a donor advised fund or other public charity are generally eligible for an income tax deduction of up to 60% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). If you have appreciated securities — held for more than 12 months — you can electronically transfer shares to a donor advised fund and claim a fair market value deduction of up to 30% of adjusted gross income. Even better, you will not be subject to capital gains tax on the appreciated portion of the contribution. After the DAF sponsor (the organization where you have your account) liquidates the stock, the proceeds are credited to your fund, enabling you to make grants to multiple charities. At Jewish Communal Fund, you may choose from a robust selection of investments, and the tax-free earnings will be rebalanced into your Jewish Communal Fund account.

Plan ahead and respond swiftly when there is a crisis. 

Putting money aside when you have additional income such as a bonus, appreciated securities, or an inheritance allows you to be more tax-efficient and intentional with your giving. So when a crisis occurs, like the terrible Oct. 7 attack on Israel or a devastating natural disaster, you will be ready to help with a donation with the click of a button. Grants from Jewish Communal Fund are sent out within two to three days.

Use a donor advised fund to group contributions for several years of giving

You can make a contribution to a donor advised fund by “bunching” what you would have contributed to charities over the next two to three years, enabling you to reach the threshold for itemizing your tax return and qualifying for a maximum tax deduction. Many DAFs do not have an annual minimum distribution requirement, so you can set the timetable for making grants. 

Terminate a private foundation using a DAF.

If you already have a private foundation, you can transfer assets to a DAF to eliminate the expense and administrative burden. Unlike the private foundation, your confidentiality is protected because DAFs report in the aggregate rather than disclosing information on individual fundholders. 

Engage the next generation with a community of Jewish philanthropists.

At Jewish Communal Fund, parents or other family members may open funds for their adult children between the ages of 18-30 with a contribution of only $1,800. This is an effective way to help the next generation begin their own philanthropic journey as part of a network of Jewish givers.

Why choose Jewish Communal Fund?

JCF is the largest and most experienced Jewishly affiliated donor advised fund in the nation, with over $2.8 billion in charitable assets for 4,700 funds. Each year, JCF’s board of trustees makes a $2 million gift from its revenues to the annual campaign of UJA-Federation of New York. JCF’s endowment, the Special Gifts Fund, makes annual grants on behalf of fundholders to support organizations that promote the welfare and security of the Jewish community at home and abroad. After the outbreak of the war in Israel, JCF’s trustees awarded $500,000 from the Special Gifts Fund for the Israel Emergency Fund of UJA-Federation of New York. 

Additionally, JCF’s endowment has supported kosher food pantries, JCCs, Jewish summer camps, and services for the elderly and Holocaust survivors. Unlike commercial DAFs, JCF offers Jewish values investments such as Israel Bonds and an Israeli exchange-traded fund (ETF). JCF’s recoverable grant program partners with the leading Jewish loan societies – Hebrew Free Loan Society in the U.S. and Ogen in Israel. Just by using JCF to help streamline your giving, you will stand with a proud network of Jewish philanthropists supporting the Jewish community’s important communal organizations. 

*This is not accounting advice, so consult with your accountant regarding your own personal situation.

Ellen Smith-Israelson is the CMO and vice president of philanthropic services at Jewish Communal Fund. Her career in philanthropy spans 36 years working in the arts, higher education and Jewish organizations. For help deciding whether a donor advised fund is right for you, visit or contact the JCF team to request more information or schedule a call.

The post Smart tips to help maximize your charitable giving — and your tax benefits appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Kyiv Rejects Putin’s ‘Absurd Ultimatum’ to End War

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

i24 NewsRussia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin said he would end the war in Ukraine only if Kyiv agreed to drop its NATO ambitions and hand over the entirety of four provinces claimed by Moscow. Kyiv swiftly rejected the demands as tantamount to surrender.

Putin demands that Ukraine transfers to Russia four regions, including a 300,000 city of Kherson and 700,000 Zaporizhzhya as a “precondition” to “peace talks”. This man is delusional, and those in the West who speak of “negotiations” or “cease fire” are enemies of the free world.

— Sergej Sumlenny, LL.M (@sumlenny) June 14, 2024

“The conditions are very simple,” Putin said, listing them as the full withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from the entire territory of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

Putin’s maximalist conditions apparently reflect Moscow’s growing confidence that its forces have the upper hand in the war.

He restated his demand for Ukraine’s demilitarization and said an end to Western sanctions must also be part of a peace deal. He also repeated his call for Ukraine’s “denazification.”

“He is offering for Ukraine to admit defeat. He is offering for Ukraine to legally give up its territories to Russia. He is offering for Ukraine to sign away its geopolitical sovereignty,” said Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, rejecting the demands as “absurd.”

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Deadly Explosion Kills 8 IDF Soldiers in Rafah

Illustrative. Some rises after an Israeli strike as Israeli forces launch a ground and air operation in the eastern part of Rafah, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Hatem Khaled

i24 NewsEarly this morning, tragedy struck in the southern Gaza city of Rafah as eight Israeli soldiers lost their lives in a devastating explosion, marking the deadliest incident for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the region since January.

The IDF has confirmed the casualties, with one soldier identified as Captain Wassem Mahmoud, 23, a deputy company commander from Beit Jann in the Combat Engineering Corps’ 601st Battalion.

The names of the other seven soldiers will be released after their families have been notified.

According to initial reports from the IDF, the soldiers were traveling in a Namer armored combat engineering vehicle (CEV) as part of a convoy around 5 a.m., following a successful overnight operation targeting Hamas militants in the Tel Sultan neighborhood of Rafah. During the operation, troops under the 401st Armored Brigade reportedly neutralized approximately 50 gunmen.

The convoy was en route to buildings captured by the army for the soldiers to rest, when the Namer CEV, which was the fifth or sixth vehicle in the convoy, was struck by a powerful explosion. The nature of the explosion remains under investigation, with possibilities ranging from a pre-planted bomb to an improvised device placed on the vehicle by Hamas operatives.

Initial findings suggest that explosives stored on the exterior of the Namer CEV may have contributed to the severity of the blast. Normally, such explosives are designed to minimize harm to troops inside if detonated.

The IDF probe indicates there was no gunfire preceding the explosion, and the vehicle was not stationary at the time of the incident. The circumstances surrounding the tragedy have prompted intensified scrutiny into the safety protocols and operational procedures during military movements in hostile territories.

The deaths of these eight soldiers bring the total number of IDF casualties in recent ground operations against Hamas to 307. This figure includes a police officer killed during a recent hostage rescue operation and a civilian Defense Ministry contractor also slain in the conflict.

This is a developing story 

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U.S. Officials Fear Escalating Conflict Between Israel and Hezbollah

Israeli firefighters work following rocket attacks from Lebanon, amid ongoing cross-border hostilities between Hezbollah and Israeli forces, near the border on its Israeli side, June 13, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Avi Ohayon

i24 NewsRecent actions by both Israel and Hezbollah have sparked growing concerns among U.S. officials, who fear that the situation could escalate into a full-scale war, according to reports from CBS News.

The tension has intensified following a series of Israeli airstrikes on Lebanese territory, which some American authorities believe are laying the groundwork for a larger military operation.

Sources within the US government have expressed worries that such a move could trigger a conflict that might strain Israel’s alliance with Washington.

Hezbollah, in response to recent events including the assassination of senior commander Taleb Sami Abdullah, has escalated its own actions. The group has begun launching daily rocket attacks targeting northern Israeli communities since October 8, citing solidarity with Hamas amidst the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

US officials cited by CBS News have highlighted concerns over the potential unintended consequences of Hezbollah’s increased attacks. They fear that these actions could provoke Israel into launching a significant military assault, further exacerbating the volatile situation in the region.

The developments come amid ongoing international efforts to de-escalate tensions and prevent a wider conflict. Diplomatic channels remain active, with calls for restraint and dialogue from various quarters.

The United States, a key ally of Israel, has historically played a crucial role in mediating and influencing regional conflicts. Officials are closely monitoring the situation, emphasizing the importance of avoiding actions that could escalate tensions further.

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