It’s February, and that means it is tax time in my household. Reams of paper enough to kill an entire forest are gathered, to file FAFSA government education forms, and to document taxable deductions for my development consulting business and family IRS forms.
One of the deductions that I pay particular attention to is the charitable tax deduction. I calculate what percentage of my income did my charitable contributions represent. Remember when Al Gore was Vice President and he raised eyebrows by giving less than 1% of his income (aprox. $200K) to charity? Note to people who make more than $150K, that was widely considered to be stingy and below the national average (3.5%).
I look at the breadth of charities I supported, and analyze whether those gifts reflect my values. In-kind clothes, books/toys to the needy? Check. Cash support to agencies that provide a social safety net for people’s basic needs is represented, because there but for the grace of God go I…. Schools or universities that provided me with invaluable education? Also there.
I love public television and radio shows, so I support them as well to show my appreciation and keep them on air. Bigger sponsors and donors than me need to see that those shows are valued.
I see donations to local youth sports teams and my local institutions (Library, Police/Fire Associations place of worship, and the like), which show my appreciation for my community and all the volunteers who step up to make it a better place. Most importantly, I see a number of disease-related donations –those that affect people I know, and especially the one that affects my own family.
So yes, I look at my tax forms and think this was a good year. I earned enough to pay taxes and contribute to the public good. These charitable contributions and amounts tell the story of who I am and my values. How about yours?