Good time to give

Published 7:46 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2011

With the first day of the new year just around the corner, the thoughts of many people in Suffolk and around the nation are turning to taxes. Dec. 31 will mark the end of the tax year, and an important consideration for the 50 percent or so of Americans who actually pay income taxes is how to reduce their liability for 2011.

There are many strategies available to taxpayers, even at this late date. Paying more on mortgages, contributing to IRAs and making qualifying purchases related to one’s business are all among the suggestions that tax accountants have for their clients during the waning days of December.

All are viable tax strategies (though this comes with the standard advice to check with your tax professional, rather than relying solely on the generalities of a newspaper editorial). But one end-of-year tax strategy can benefit others while putting money back into your own pocket at tax time: charitable donations.

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There’s no bad time to donate money to charity. Rare-to-nonexistent is the nonprofit organization that’s in such good financial condition that more funds cannot be put to good use. But the end of the year is an especially good time to donate. At the end of the year, some nonprofits are struggling to pay off debts or reward underpaid staff members for their hard work. Many of the people served by area charitable organizations are most in need during the winter and in the weeks around Christmas. And adding to one’s annual charitable donation total can help reduce tax liability for the giver, meaning that end-of-year windfalls such as annual bonuses can be leveraged to have a smaller impact on one’s tax bill.

Suffolk, of course, has any number of worthy charities. Whether the Cheer Fund, or the Western Tidewater Free Clinic, or the Salvation Army or the Red Cross or any of dozens of other nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving the community and the lives of the people who live in it, there is some charitable agency that could use your help right now.

Consider a last-minute donation. You may never know the lives you touch, but you can be sure that your contribution will make a difference.