I have never been more conscious than I am now that none of us knows what will happen in the future. Last year at this time, I certainly did not expect 2020 to turn out as it has. After noting that a common destiny of death awaits us all, the erudite Sage wrote in Ecclesiastes chapter 9:
“Go, eat your food with gladness, drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.” Meaning, of course, that we are alive now, despite being destined for death, and while alive, as much as we can, we should enjoy the life that God has given us.
In much of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, the word usually translated “meaningless” would be better rendered “vaporous.” That term comes from the Hebrew word “to breathe.” As we think about life, we realize that our lives certainly are vaporous, breathy, foggy—the years fly by, and just when we think we have everything under control, we realize that we can’t grasp life at all.
So many things have changed this year! However, we still have the same responsibility to live godly lives, do acts of kindness, and raise up the next generation who will serve the Church and the world. Part of that next generation is studying now at Perkins School of Theology.
With the change of administration in Washington coming next month, it is time to evaluate our financial strategies to continue to be wise stewards of the resources with which we have been entrusted. There may be changes in the tax law, but, as people of faith, we will always give to causes that are dear to us. At the end of this tumultuous year, let me remind you of some opportunities.
- IRA roll-over
- Although there is no required minimum distribution this year, and the minimum threshold for using this strategy has been raised to 72 ½, this still is a wonderful way to fulfill your giving plans and not diminish your operational cash. Remember: You do not get a tax receipt for these gifts, but you also do not have to declare the amounts of the gifts as income. So it’s a wash.
- Appreciated Securities
- The fantastic market run-up makes 2020 a perfect year to think about this tool. Make sure to work with your tax advisor as you plan this and other strategies.
- Real estate
- Like appreciated securities, real estate has gained greatly in most areas of the country.
- Planned gifts of various kinds
- Wills, trusts, life insurance, charitable remainder trusts, and other planning tools are readily available in the tax code. Work carefully with your attorney and tax consultant.
SMU is glad to help as you think about a year-end gift or a gift that may come to Perkins as the sage in Ecclesiastes notes, “when our vaporous days are over.”
For cash gifts you can visit our giving website by clicking here and following the instructions. Many are using this tool for recurring gifts. The site will instruct you how that can be accomplished.
Checks should be made out to “SMU” with a memo note: “SMU Fund for Perkins” and mailed to:
PO Box 750133
Dallas, TX 75275-0133
In spite of all that has happened, enjoy the year-end celebrations—they may be vaporous, but God has given life to us to enjoy as best we can.
With a vaporous but thankful heart,
John A. Martin
Director of Development