Feeling Generous? Make Sure Your Gifts Are Completed by Year-End

Feeling Generous? Make Sure Your Gifts Are Completed by Year-End
The 2012 December Riker Danzig Tax and Trusts & Estates Alert

Feeling Generous? Make Sure Your Gifts Are Completed by Year-End

In order to receive a 2012 income tax deduction for charitable contributions, you must complete those contributions by the end of the year.  Moreover, if you are planning on utilizing the $13,000 per year/per recipient annual gift exclusion in 2012 for non-charitable gifts, you must also complete those gifts by December 31st.

Generally, a gift is completed in the year when it is unconditionally delivered to the donee or the donee’s agent or when the actual payment is made.  On the other hand, a gift that is subject to conditions may not amount to a completed gift at all.

• Payments by Check: Charitable contributions paid by check are considered delivered when the check is mailed, even though the check is not received by the charity or charged against the donor’s bank account until a later date.  As a result, if you are planning on making a gift to a charity by check, it should be mailed (via U.S. Postal Service, not an alternative delivery service such as Federal Express, UPS, etc.) to the charity on or before December 31st in order for it to be deductible this year.
On the other hand, for a gift by check to a non-charitable donee, the IRS generally takes the position that the gift is not completed until the check is paid, certified, or accepted by the drawee bank, or negotiated for value to a third party.  There is, however, a limited exception to this general rule.  In Revenue Ruling 96-56, the IRS stated that a gift by check to a non-charitable donee is complete on the date that the check is deposited by the donee, provided the check is paid by the drawee bank while the donor is alive and: (1) the donor intended to make a gift; (2) delivery of the check was unconditional; and (3) the donee presented the check for payment in the year for which completed gift treatment is sought and within a reasonable time of issuance.

•  Stock: A gift of corporate stock may be completed by delivery of the endorsed stock certificate to the donee or to an agent of the donee. The gift is complete on the date of delivery, even though the donee does not present the stock certificate to the corporation for transfer on the corporate books until a later time.  If, however, the donor delivers the certificate to his or her bank or broker, or to the issuing corporation or its transfer agent, for transfer in the name of the donee, the gift is completed on the date the stock is transferred on the books of the corporation.