A client makes an annual cash gift to her local food bank, funding her contribution by selling stock in her investment portfolio. While she appreciates the tax deduction for charitable giving, she’s also paying taxes on capital gains incurred from selling the appreciated stock. She asks Parametric if there’s a more tax-efficient way for her to make charitable donations in coordination with the tax management Parametric already performs on her Custom Core® account.
Making charitable gifts in cash is a natural instinct for many people. After all, cash gifts may lessen an investor’s current tax bill by reducing taxable income by the amount of the gift (subject to limitations, of course). But cash gifts aren’t the only option. For example, when you donate stock to a charity, you get the added benefit of receiving a tax deduction for the full fair-market value. As the below example demonstrates, this approach also represents an increase of more than 10% in the size of the gift as opposed to selling the shares and then donating the cash, since you avoid the payment of capital gains tax incurred when selling the shares.
In the case of this client, Parametric suggested a two-step course of action. First, we identified suitably appreciated securities from the client’s Custom Core portfolio, recommending a list of low-basis securities that, when donated, would maximize the capital gains transferred through the gifting process. Second, the client deposited cash equal to the value of stocks gifted. Parametric then used this cash to purchase stocks that allow the portfolio to maintain the client’s chosen market exposure but that have a much higher cost basis than the gifted shares. This higher-basis investment increases the potential for tax-loss harvesting, which should help reduce future tax payments.