With the arrival of Thanksgiving comes the start of the peak season for giving to charity, and Americans may well set another record in 2016, as they do most years. In 2015, Americans gave a record $373.25 billion, up from $358.38 billion the year before.
This year most of the guidelines are familiar: Give to a cause you really care about; be wary of solicitations by phone and email; check out the charity with a service like Charity Navigator or Guidestar; keep records so you can get the tax deduction you're due come April.
But there is something new. Last December, Congress and President Obama made permanent a tax law on qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) that allows individuals 70 ½ or older to give directly from their IRAs rather than having to take a distribution that would trigger an income-tax bill. The rules allow you to save on taxes and, as a result, give more if you want. Because a QCD reduces income and is not an itemized deduction, it even benefits investors who do not itemize.