Merry Christmas 2008
Time to hike the federal gas tax?

Keep the giving going

Another Christmas has come and gone and, as always, it was a fine one. Every year the hubby comes through on special (and other) occasions.

As for me, sure, there were a few things I wanted to get but didn't get around to picking up. No problem. My unpurchased gifts can wait until January. That's the month the hubby and I were married, so I can always call them anniversary presents and still get "good wife" credit! That's our secret, OK?

Salvation army kettle_by pheezy (2) After the holiday hubbub dies down it's also a good time to think about giving to strangers, specifically folks who didn't enjoy much seasonal cheer.

We all know about the major philanthropic organizations that put on big end-of-year, reason-for-the-season giving pushes. If you've already given to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Toys for Tots or your more local charity of choice, that's fantastic.

If, however, the chaos of Christmas got in the way of donating to your favorite nonprofit, don't despair. They'll gladly take your gift whenever you can get around to it.

And if you contribute by Dec. 31, it also could help your personal tax bill bottom line.

Getting the tax most out of gifts: Taxpayers who itemize can include charitable gifts on their Schedule A. For most folks, that means that all our donations are deductible.

Big givers might face a limit, as will folks whose overall itemized expenses are reduced because they earn over a certain amount; $159,950 is the cutoff amount for 2008 returns.

So go ahead and give by the end of the year to do unto others and do yourself some tax good, too.

And even if you don't get a tax break or get a reduced one, you'll still get the full benefit of knowing you helped out someone else.

Interesting ways to give: Ideal Bite put together this list of intriguing ways to give that I didn't know about.

  • CharityUSA -- Choose a specialized e-mail account from a variety of causes and your electronic messages will help support that group.
  • Care2 -- Test your knowledge and, among other things, help conserve land, assist children and stop violence against women. 
  • TheNonProfits -- Here you'll find links to more than 50 different click-to-donate sites.

Ways to help other than donating directly include:

  • Care2 E-mail -- Help different social justice and eco-charities with your free, donation-linked email account.    
  • Free Rice -- This online game help you brush up your vocabulary. For each answer you get right, you'll donate 20 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program.   
  • GoodSearch -- This search engine powered by Yahoo donates 50  percent of revenues to charities that you choose.

More giving ideas and discussions can be found in my year-end moves post, as well as in this IRS Web page about year-end donations , Practically Speaking and Fun Times Guide to Money & Finances.

Salvation Army drummer photo
courtesy pheezy & Flickr/Creative Commons


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