How Tax Code Can be Good for Tzedaka

I asked our Foundation Director, Dan Brandeis, to write this week’s message. Dan has extensive experience as a lawyer in tax and estate planning (along with several other Federation staff members):

Dan Brandeis
Daniel O. Brandeis, J.D., LL.M.
Jewish Community Foundation Director

I’ve always found it interesting when people suggest that charitable giving is not influenced by the tax code. Each year, the Foundation processes 30% of its annual contributions in December. Clearly, taxes have something to do with this phenomenon. While we all believe in tzedakah, we also agree that there is nothing wrong with giving in a manner that maximizes tax benefits. Thus, as the year draws to a close it is a perfect time to consider charitable giving in order to maximize deductions for 2019.

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) in our Foundation allow you to contribute money today and obtain an immediate charitable income tax deduction. With a DAF you have flexibility if you’re not sure what charities you want to support. You can make recommendations to distribute money at any time to virtually any qualified charitable organization. Moreover, given the strong stock market, if you contribute appreciated stock to your DAF, you can avoid capital gains tax on assets held more than one year. We can help you set up a DAF in minutes.

Given the increase in the standard deduction, if you find that you are no longer itemizing your deductions, you may want to consider a DAF as an excellent vehicle to hold multiple years of charitable giving today. By “bunching” multiple years of giving into a DAF in 2019, you may be able to exceed the standard deduction and therefore benefit from itemizing your charitable giving.

Please reach out to us to consider how you can accomplish your year-end giving before the year end in the most tax-efficient manner. You can reach me at or at 412-992-5220. Sharon Perelman, Director of Planned Giving and Associate Foundation Director can be reached at or at 412-992-5224. We would be happy to help you.

Daniel O. Brandeis, J.D., LL.M., Jewish Community Foundation Director

Shabbat Shalom. Go Steelers!

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