The CARES Act: What You Need to Know

Time is Running Out: Charitable Giving Strategies for 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which was signed into law in March 2020, provided more than $2 trillion in relief across the U.S. economy, including businesses, health care, nonprofits, and individual citizens. The CARES Act combined with other recent legislation, presents special and advantageous opportunities for charitable giving. While it is currently unclear whether any of the CARE Act benefits will be extended, most experts believe these benefits will sunset on December 31, 2020.

Highlights from the recent tax code changes related to charitable giving and details on ways that they might benefit you.

  1. Consider using the 100% AGI limit for charitable deductions if you received a windfall or sold appreciated assets or a business in 2020 and are facing a large capital gains tax in 2020.
  2. Explore more flexibility in charitable giving for IRAs, such as a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA if you are age 70½ or older (an option available even if required minimum distributions are suspended).
  3. Use the $300 above-the-line tax reduction if you do not itemize on your tax return.

1. For 2020 Only, the Limitation on Cash Gifts to Public Charities Is Eliminated

For the 2020 tax year only, donors of large cash gifts to charity will not be limited in the amount of the income tax charitable deduction that they may take. In past years a limitation of 60% of AGI applied to the income tax deduction for cash gifts to qualified public charities, such as Baptist Health Foundation. With the 2020 deduction lifted, consider whether it makes sense for you to make a larger gift, “bunch” future gifts together, or accelerate the payment of a pledge in 2020 to receive a full income deduction this year.

Gifts of appreciated property such as stocks and bonds to a public charity such as Baptist Health Foundation and gifts of cash and appreciated property to private foundations and other non-public charities are still subject to caps on the amount of the income tax charitable deduction that you can take. If you make such gifts, your unlimited income tax charitable deduction for cash gifts to a public charity is reduced dollar-for-dollar by those other gifts. Any charitable contribution exceeding the limits may be carried forward up to five years and used in later years subject to certain limits.

Charitable contributions carried over from a prior tax year (before 2020) are excluded from this temporary relief and are subject to previous limitations in the tax code.

Consult your tax advisers on how this provision will affect you.

2. More Flexibility in Charitable Giving Using IRAs

Under the CARES Act, Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s and most other defined contribution plans do not have to be taken for 2020. However, the benefits of making a direct charitable distribution from an IRA (also known as a Qualified Charitable Distribution or QCD) remain available to donors age 70½ and older. Using a QCD, you can contribute up to $100,000 from an IRA that bypasses recognition for income tax completely.

The CARES Act did not further alter the age minimums that the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act) increased. The SECURE Act increased the age for RMDs from 70½ to 72 years for individuals who attain 70 ½ years after 2019 (born after June 30, 1949).

3. Universal Deduction for Donations Up to $300

If you do not itemize your deductions, the CARES Act provides special income tax charitable deductions that will reduce your taxable income. This deduction is available for cash gifts to public charities, such as Baptist Health Foundation, and is limited to $300 per taxpayer, but not eligible to be doubled if filing a joint return. It is not available for cash deductions carried forward from prior years.

Note that cash gifts include money, checks mailed by the end of 2020, and credit card donations (as of date posted to account), and there are other forms of cash giving, such as paying a charity’s debt and unreimbursed volunteer expenses.

More of What You Need to Know

Higher Deduction Limits for 2020 Tax Year

  • Gifts of stock, real estate, or any other non-cash items are subject to the previous limits, generally 30 percent or cost basis.
  • Charitable deductions for corporations have been expanded for 2020 only.

Suspension of Required Minimum Distribution Requirements (RMDs) from Qualified Retirement Plans

  • Please refer to the IRS publications on Charitable Contributions, Required Minimum Distributions, and Qualified Charitable Distributions, and check with your financial advisers to see how these rules apply to your plan and situation.

Universal Deduction for Donations Up to $300

  • Beginning in 2020, the new deduction is not available for gifts to donor advised funds, private foundations, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, or pooled income funds.
  • Unlike the other charitable provisions in the CARES Act, this above-the-line deduction is permanent and will not expire after 2020 unless additional legislation is passed.

Contact Us and Your Advisers

  • The CARES Act is extensive and includes numerous provisions that could benefit you financially. Consult your advisers about these provisions, and contact us if we can help you with any gift-planning opportunities.

The information presented is not intended as legal or financial advice. Please consult your own professional advisers to discuss your specific situation.