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View Poll Results: How much of your annual budget goes to charity?
Nothing 10 11.11%
Less than 5% 56 62.22%
Between 5 and 10% 17 18.89%
Between 10 and 15% 4 4.44%
More than 15% 3 3.33%
Voters: 90. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-17-2011, 12:52 PM   #41
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I would think this would have a lot of negatives to it..

First, the shelter would have to agree with that.... then they would have to decide who was worth it and who was not... you can not direct a contribution to a beneficiary... so if you wanted to help out 'Suzie'... you just have to hope they help her...

I also bet there are some IRS rules that might not past muster... but I could be wrong on this...
It is a trade off. Is it more important to direct the donation to one specific individual, or for it to be tax-deductible? It may not be possible to give the cake and deduct it too.

Quite possibly you are right that one couldn't make out a check to the shelter for the purpose of paying Suzie's deductible, but it might be possible to direct the contribution to "paying deductibles for Medicaid recipients who are unable to pay the deductible themselves"—a category which includes Suzie.
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:50 PM   #42
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The individuals to whom I have given money did not ask for such, except indirectly (mention on a blog...).
I have my own criteria for giving away cash.
Have also shipped clothing (after asking if it was wanted).
Have also received clothing.
Have also shipped electronics not used.

Life's too short to keep tight tabs.
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Old 01-17-2011, 02:58 PM   #43
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The whole tax deductible thing tends to piss me off.
Another super-crazy aspect of charitable tax deductions, is you have to itemize to get them (unless I totally misunderstand this, which is very possible considering the complex counter-intuitive nature of tax code).

Many people, for various reasons cannot itemize (renting versus a mortgage and paying property tax directly can easily make the difference). If we accept that the intent of the deduction is to encourage contributions, what is it about that renter's contributions that are less worth motivating than the homeowner's? Makes no sense to me. Isn't money fungible?

The other thing the govt seems to be saying with that deduction, is that any qualified charity must be more efficient than the govt at helping people (by the amount of your marginal rate). OK, so encourage ALL people to give, if that is the point.

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Old 01-17-2011, 03:16 PM   #44
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No one will argue that the tax code isn't way too complicated.
Unfortunately, no one wants to give up their pet deductions or exemptions, or squirrelly loophole.

I think most of us give simply because it makes us feel good. I know that's the case for me.
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:22 PM   #45
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The whole tax deductible thing tends to piss me off.

Me too , most of the money I give is direct to people who need it .
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:44 PM   #46
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Another super-crazy aspect of charitable tax deductions, is you have to itemize to get them (unless I totally misunderstand this, which is very possible considering the complex counter-intuitive nature of tax code).

Many people, for various reasons cannot itemize (renting versus a mortgage and paying property tax directly can easily make the difference). If we accept that the intent of the deduction is to encourage contributions, what is it about that renter's contributions that are less worth motivating than the homeowner's? Makes no sense to me. Isn't money fungible?

The other thing the govt seems to be saying with that deduction, is that any qualified charity must be more efficient than the govt at helping people (by the amount of your marginal rate). OK, so encourage ALL people to give, if that is the point.

-ERD50

I guess you missed the part about the zero bracket amount... it is a high level of deductions so you do not have to keep track of anything... just take it... and it is supposed to include all deductions that an ordinary person would have... including charitable deductions...

Giving it a higher priority than that would not be good... and a lot more fraud to go after.... Also, if you gave it to people who use the standard deduction... then you have taken the benefit away from the people who itemize... you would get the standard plus charity... other would get whatever they added up to be... no extra for charity...

Now you know why the tax code is the way it is... you can not be 'fair' no matter what you do....
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:51 PM   #47
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No one will argue that the tax code isn't way too complicated.

Unfortunately, no one wants to give up their pet deductions or exemptions, or squirrelly loophole.

I think most of us give simply because it makes us feel good. I know that's the case for me.
Don't say no one, I'll do it in a second. I think the overall benefits of an understandable, well designed tax code are far greater over time than any 'pet deduction' I might get in any given year.

Wait, there's a deduction for pets? Here kitty!

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Old 01-17-2011, 03:59 PM   #48
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I guess you missed the part about the zero bracket amount... it is a high level of deductions so you do not have to keep track of anything... just take it... and it is supposed to include all deductions that an ordinary person would have... including charitable deductions...
OK, I can see that - the standard deduction supposedly includes an average amount of charitable giving. But that does nothing to implicitly motivate any giving. Though I mostly agree with others, I give what I give pretty much independent of tax deductions - but it was a consideration in some high income years. I gave more in those years and averaged down in other years. Overall, it is a factor to some degree on average, even if it doesn't affect some individuals.

Did someone say 'charity begins in the home', and that one definition of tithing was to include all charitable donations in that %? Well, this past year I donated new appliances and granite to the kitchen in our home, and it really needed it and was very appreciative. I suspect next year I'll be donating a coat of paint, maybe a new A/C and furnace and water heater. It feels good to be so generous.

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Old 01-17-2011, 05:49 PM   #49
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Don't say no one, I'll do it in a second. I think the overall benefits of an understandable, well designed tax code are far greater over time than any 'pet deduction' I might get in any given year.
-ERD50
OK, I should have said "most people" instead of "no one".
I'm with you. I would love to see the tax code simplified, and would have no problem giving up my favorite deductions if the system could be made really fair. Replacing the entire income tax with a simple VAT or national sales tax might work, but the devil is in the details. How do you keep it low enough to make groceries affordable, yet high enough to reasonably soak the buyer of a mega-yacht?

Putting a lot of IRS employees out of work would rank very low on my list of regrets.
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Old 01-17-2011, 06:05 PM   #50
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I used to try to give to everyone that was legitimate and requested a donation. I got on too many mailing lists and they started asking for donations more and more frequently.

Recently I started to only donate at the end of the calendar year. I found that many of the charities that I gave to had a year end special push. I also know my income by December and thus now try to give less in years that I have had big personal expenses and more when I find that I have extra.
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Old 01-17-2011, 06:19 PM   #51
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OK, I should have said "most people" instead of "no one".
I'm with you. I would love to see the tax code simplified, and would have no problem giving up my favorite deductions if the system could be made really fair. Replacing the entire income tax with a simple VAT or national sales tax might work, but the devil is in the details. How do you keep it low enough to make groceries affordable, yet high enough to reasonably soak the buyer of a mega-yacht?

Putting a lot of IRS employees out of work would rank very low on my list of regrets.
The obvious way to make sure groceries stayed affordable under a VAT or national sales tax would be to exclude food from the tax. One of the flat tax proposals would replace the income tax with a national sales tax on (IIRC) new products only, then refund a certain amount per person. The refunded amount would, in theory, make the basic necessities tax free.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:58 AM   #52
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OK, I should have said "most people" instead of "no one".
I'm with you. I would love to see the tax code simplified, and would have no problem giving up my favorite deductions if the system could be made really fair. Replacing the entire income tax with a simple VAT or national sales tax might work, but the devil is in the details. How do you keep it low enough to make groceries affordable, yet high enough to reasonably soak the buyer of a mega-yacht?

Putting a lot of IRS employees out of work would rank very low on my list of regrets.
I'd also be happy to give up my favorite deductions in exchange for everyone else giving up their favorite deductions (and all tax preferences).

However, I can't imagine a "simple" VAT that raises as much money as the income tax. Over time, the VAT is just a likely to get riddled by exemptions and special deals as the FIT.
(... and don't forget that anyone wealthy enough to buy a mega-yacht can purchase and register it in some non-VAT Caribbean island.)
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