9 months ago



LEGACY GIVING Tzedaka Savvy By MAAYAN HOFFMAN A few years ago, Joel Friedlander of Delaware decided to open a Jewish National Fund (JNF- USA) donor-advised fund so he and his wife could better set aside the money they wanted to donate at the start of the year, before they had determined to what specific charities they wanted to make their gifts. “I found it good to have a global number set in advance, so you can think about how much you want to give and make sure you do it,” Friedlander told The Jerusalem Report. Now Friedlander’s decision has become even more relevant to him and the organizations he supports. That’s because the sweeping tax overhaul doubles the standard deduction that two-thirds of Americans used, to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples. This year, many taxpayers who historically itemized deductions will find that it is less beneficial for them do so, said Matt Bernstein, Chief Planned Giving Officer for Jewish National Fund, because they’ll find that the deductions they normally take, including for charitable giving, don’t add up to as much as the new standard amount. But Bernstein said there is a workaround in a donor-advised fund. A donor-advised fund is often compared to private foundations, in that a donor sets up a fund and then has the flexibility to make charitable grant recommendations at his/her discretion. At the same time, said Bernstein, a Jewish National Fund donor-advised fund assures donors receive the most favorable, immediate tax deductions allowed under IRS tax laws. “It’s just a really smart way to manage one’s philanthropy,” said Bernstein. “You contribute, you get the full tax benefit, and then, at your discretion, you make grants to the charities you want to support. You get your deduction, the money grows and you don’t pay any taxes.” For “savvy donors,” said Bernstein, a donor-advised fund is the answer to the new tax law. Called “bunching,” donors can plan to make their donations and itemize their gifts every other year. So, for instance, in 2019 the donor might double up on contributions. Then, in 2020, the donor will skip donating and take the standard donation. The next year, the donor will make gifts and itemize, and so on. By bunching these donations into a donor-advised fund, the donor can take the deduction, but still be able to pay out annual gifts to the charities of his or her choice – even on years that he or she does not itemize deductions. A portion of all money deposited into a Jewish National Fund donor-advised fund is earmarked for JNF. However, donors can simply tell JNF to what other charities they want their money distributed and in what amounts. JNF does not charge a fee. “I just send an email and say, ‘Please send X dollars to Y non-profit,’ and they manage it, tell me what is left, etc.,” said Friedlander. “You don’t have to worry. They keep track.” Friedlander said donor-advised funds are rising in popularity. He chose to open his fund through JNF because he and his family, including his two children, are passionate about the organization. “We have been involved with the Jewish National Fund for at least 15 years and have held different roles with the organization,” Friedlander said. He has brought his kids to Israel on JNF missions and said he hopes that by having a JNF donor-advised fund, his children will make the decision to give to Israel, too. “I think it is helpful to have a big picture and overall look at charitable donations, rather than looking at each decision as it comes along,” Friedlander said. “A donor-advised fund helps you plan your future basic approach to charitable giving.” ■ Louise and Alan Dabrow. 18

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