By Michael Freeman
The Salvation Army NEO
America is a generous country. Over 67 percent of American households give to charity.
While some people give for tax reasons, many — if not the majority — open their wallets because they are convinced that the work of their favorite charity is vital.
With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017, the philanthropic community is standing back to see if this is true. Do Americans give for personal tax savings or from a place of true charity?
The new tax law has doubled the standard deduction — the preset amount all taxpayers are allowed to lop off their taxable income — from $6,500 to $12,000. This will reduce the number of taxpayers who itemize deductions on their tax return from 47 million to 19 million. Simply put, very few of us will now deduct our charitable contributions.
Options remain, however, that can make us tax-savvy stewards. Consider this: Rather than cash, donate appreciated stocks. With the fervor of the current market, your investment may have seen handsome growth.
Here’s the catch: When you sell that stock, you are responsible to pay a capital gain tax. If however, you have owned that stock for over a year, it can be donated to charity and the gift passes to the charity without any tax due. For itemizers, the full amount of the stock’s value on the day it was donated qualifies as a charitable deduction.
For future “planned giving” — which means giving after you have died — there is a plethora of ideas that enable you to make an impact from beyond the grave. My father had a friend who had been financially successful in the trucking business. At his death, I asked my dad how much the man had left behind....
You make your list; you check it twice. Then there’s nothing nicer than settling back in your comfy chair and shopping online for all the gifts you need for the holidays. This season, you can support small, local business owners who sell meaningful, creative gifts while enjoying the convenience of online shopping.
Earlier this year, votes from 36,000 Northeast Ohioans were compiled into The Cleveland Hot List, featuring 6,690 businesses competing for the title of greater Cleveland’s best through CityVoter, an online ballot. Within that listing were 58 nominees for Best Gift Shop.
We whittled finalists into these top-rated gift shops that also offer online shopping. From fun stocking stuffers to keepsake legacy items, you can buy creative and meaningful gifts from local shopkeepers — all from the comfort of your own home.
STEM Handmade Soaps
This small company offers premium handcrafted soaps, using 100 percent all-natural ingredients. Only high-quality pure vegetable oils and high-concentration glycerin are innovatively combined to create hydrating soaps. Products also include lip balm, deodorant, body butter, scented candles, men’s grooming products, hygiene accessories, pet shampoos and gift sets.
Price range: $3-$40
12405 Madison Ave., Lakewood
A female veteran-owned and -operated woodworking shop, this may be Northeast Ohio’s premier source for all custom furniture, home items, decor and outdoor games. Products include cutting boards, Cleveland- and Ohio-themed wall hangings, customized family trees and special orders.
Price range: $10-$125
Earth Angels Holistic Health
Earth Angels Boutique provides “Tools for better living — Release. Balance. Restore.” Products include incense sticks and burners, worry stones, selenite and quartz products, gemstone sets, salt lamps, sterling silver/stone jewelry, and even an Amethyst Geode Calcite Quartz Healing Empowerment stone.
Price range: $2.50-$185
3518 Scranton Road, Cleveland
The Framer’s Gallery
Choose from a wide selection of artwork and gifts created by local, regional, national and international artists....