Perkins’ fiscal year begins on June 1 and ends on May 31, but for most of us, our personal fiscal year ends on December 31 and coincides with our IRS tax responsibilities. 

While the vast majority of us don’t give to charities in order to get a tax benefit, it is a nice advantage to claim on our income tax returns.  Because of the 2018 change in the U.S. tax law, I urge you to pay close attention this year.  With the loss of the personal exemption but the large increase in the standard deduction, along with new tax brackets, many will want to get advice in filing under the new system. 

The SMU Office of Gift Planning, under the expert leadership of Marianne Piepenburg, will be glad to talk to you about specific year-end gifts you may wish to make to Perkins or to the University.  I also can be a point of contact (johnma@smu.edu).  

Without regard to whether the entire gift is deductible or not, gifts of appreciated stock are tax-effective as they avoid the capital gains tax when transferred to charity. For those over 70 ½, IRA Charitable Rollover gifts are a good way to make gifts up to $100,000 to the public charity of your choice, meeting your required minimum distribution without increasing your income tax liability.   

 For information about gift planning, visit smu.planmylegacy.org for some useful ideas to maximize your legacy of giving.  At that site you can be reminded how to donate stock, find information about charitable gift annuities, see sample language for bequests, and so much more.  You will see helpful steps based on your general gift amount, your age, or the kind of asset that you have in mind.  The website is informative and intuitive.  You will find it very helpful. 

Are you aware that almost 60 percent of adults in the United States do not have a will or any document detailing what happens to their estate after their death?  Perhaps it is time for you to review your documents—or create them if you have not already done so!  A review is especially important if you have moved to a new state because each state has its own laws pertaining to wills and trusts. 

I am grateful for the faithful and generous donors who have allowed Perkins to continue in its ministry of education for more than 100 years.  Many of our sustaining gifts came about because of careful estate planning.  I hope each one of us will take that responsibility on our shoulders so that the charities we care so deeply about will benefit for years to come.  

With a heart of thanks, 

John A. Martin
Director of Development
Perkins School of Theology