Home E Insights E Tax-Efficient Tithing

Tax-Efficient Tithing

Tax efficient tithing The Woodlands, TX

Tax-Efficient Tithing

How to Optimize Your Giving to Faith-Based Organizations & Other Charities


At this time of year, our team receives an influx of questions about the best way to minimize what they owe for the current tax year as well as strategies for the future. While the IRS doesn’t offer too broad a toolkit for tax reduction, there are certain charitable strategies we encourage clients to take advantage of on an annual basis.

In this blog, the RGWM team outlines factors to consider that can help you make the most of your charitable giving so you can maximize what your favorite causes receive without unintentionally lining Uncle Sam’s pocketbook.

Charitable Deductions and Your Taxes

The first critical element to understand when thinking about charitable giving is that for many, these gifts don’t do much to affect taxes. Each taxpayer must decide each year between a Standard Deduction and Itemized Deductions. The visual below is an oversimplification, but helps to explain:

taxable income calculation The Woodlands, TX

Therefore, if your itemized deductions don’t exceed the ~$27k standard deduction you already receive as a married couple (~$14k for Single), your gift had a negligible effect on your true taxable income. In previous years, you could get a deduction for $300 of giving ($600 if married) without having to itemize. However, for 2023 this is no longer allowed and we find that many gifts are much larger, bringing deduction maximization to the forefront of tax strategy.

Deduction Lumping

If you don’t typically itemize your deductions, TIMING when you make charitable gifts as well as certain other deductible expenses can get you “over the hump” to itemize in years when you otherwise might never qualify. This strategy is called Deduction Lumping, and while it can be complex, you don’t need to be a high income individual to take advantage. Let’s look at an example:

Strategy 1: Standard Deduction Every Year

Jim is a single engineer in Houston, TX. His deductible expenditures include about $4,500/year in property taxes on a small $250k house he inherited from his grandmother, $1,000/year of sales taxes and $8,000/year that he donates to his church. Under current law, Jim’s itemized deductions for State and Local taxes and Charitable Donations were $13,500/year, which is not enough to surpass the $13,850 threshold for the Standard Deduction. In essence, his itemized deductions don’t change his taxes.

Standard deduction Example The Woodlands, TX

Strategy 2: Significant Savings Via Deduction Lumping

If instead Jim decided to make the following changes, his deductions look significantly different:

  • Pay his property taxes for 2022 in January of 2023 (a perfectly acceptable strategy)
  • Gift his 2022 tithe to the Church as a lump sum on Jan. 1 2023
  • Make his 2023 gift to the church later in the year
  • Pay his 2023 property taxes in December of 2023

Jim suddenly reaches a State and Local Tax deduction max of $10k for the 2023 tax year. He achieves this by paying both tax bills during the 2023 calendar year.

Additionally, he has an additional $16k charitable deduction. This gives him a total of $26k in itemized deductions – a drastic increase over the Standard Deduction of $13,850. Furthermore, he still received the standard deduction in 2022, despite his itemized deductions being negligible.

Deduction lumping example The Woodlands, TX

This example is a great way to think about the timing element of various deductions. Other itemized deductions like Mortgage Interest can’t generally be shuffled around, but there are many that can.


Appreciated Assets Vs. Cash

When the offering plate is being passed around during Sunday service, do you contribute with cash or a check? Perhaps you directly transfer cash to your Church from a checking account you keep on file for convenience. Maybe you’ve even made a giving pledge to help fund a mission trip or new structure on church grounds and are wondering just how to facilitate the gift.

In many instances, directly funding
your charitable giving with cash
you’ve already paid tax on is
a tax mistake.

Before you can write a check or give cash, one must earn that money as income or sell an asset to generate the cash you’re giving. In general, gifting the asset directly is a much smarter move. Let’s consider an example of appreciated stock in an investment account.

If one purchased shares of $XYZ stock at $100 and several years later the shares are worth $200, there’s a $100 long-term capital gain that will be taxable upon the sale of the stock. Most taxpayers are subject to a 15% tax rate for long-term gains. However, this rate can be as high as 20 or 23.8% depending on income and other factors.

When liquidating the asset to give the cash to the Church (or simply giving cash that you’ve already paid a higher income tax rate on), you miss out on the tax benefit of simply donating the appreciated asset. You receive a deduction for the fair market value of the stock, and the Church as a 501(c)(3) organization doesn’t pay a capital gain tax. You just got the deduction without the underlying tax bill!


Charitable Foundations, Trusts, & Donor-Advised Funds

There are a variety of vehicles individuals can use to achieve easy and convenient gifting for the purposes of deduction lumping and capital gain avoidance. We’ll outline a few key points about each below:

Donor-Advised Fund

  • 501(c)(3) organization at many popular financial firms
  • Allows deduction at time of gift and avoids built-in capital gains
  • Funds can be diversified and invested within your fund account post-gift and distributed to other charities over time
  • Allows for non-traditional gifts like art, collectibles, etc.

Charitable Trust

  • Charitable Remainder Trust: Allows charity to receive funds after your passing (you get use of a portion during your life)
  • Charitable Lead Trust: Allows heir to receive funds after charity received income from funds during your life
  • Partial deduction available to donor immediately

Family Charitable Organization

  • Ideal for significant levels of giving
  • Registered as a 501(c)(3) organization, so anyone can receive a deduction for contributing
  • All the benefits of a Donor-Advised Fund, but even greater capabilities
  • Can compensate employees of organization (can be family members in some cases) and have various administrative and travel expenses
  • Generally higher level of scrutiny by IRS, but offers greater flexibility

All of the above charitable vehicles can be fantastic avenues to accomplish your charitable goals, but each is best suited for different scenarios.

For simple gifting strategies, a Donor-Advised fund is a perfect vehicle with an extremely low administrative burden. For more complex or higher value gifts, a donor may wish to consider a trust or family organization to fully take advantage of what the law allows.

In many cases, Deduction Lumping and donating appreciated assets go together perfectly as part of a comprehensive gifting strategy. Optimizing these deductions can amount to thousands of dollars of annual tax savings.

Need Some Help?

If you’d like some help from a CPA or CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) professional regarding this strategy and how it applies to you, the Rhame & Gorrell Wealth Management team is here to help.

Our experienced Wealth Managers can help you review your financial and tax situation and come up with a custom tax optimization strategy going forward.

Feel free to contact us at (832) 789-1100, [email protected], or click one of the buttons below to ask a question or schedule your complimentary strategy session today.


Ask A Question

Schedule Now




Rhame & Gorrell Wealth Management, LLC (“RGWM”) is an SEC registered investment adviser with its principal place of business in the State of Texas. Registration as an investment adviser is not an endorsement by securities regulators and does not imply that RGWM has attained a certain level of skill, training, or ability.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own CPA or tax professional before engaging in any transaction.  The effectiveness of any of the strategies described will depend on your individual situation and should not be construed as personalized investment advice.

For additional information about RGWM, including fees and services, send for our Firm Disclosure Brochures as set forth on Form ADV Part 2A and Part 3 by contacting the Firm directly. You can also access our Firm Brochures at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. Please read the disclosure brochures carefully before you invest or send money.

Using Options to Reduce XOM Stock Exposure

Using Options to Reduce XOM Stock Exposure

Using Options to Reduce XOM Stock Exposure Strategies For Hedging Concentrated ExxonMobil Stock Positions and Generating Income   If you are a retiree or are approaching retirement as an employee of ExxonMobil, you may have accrued a substantial position in...

Microsoft Stock Incentives and Compensation

Microsoft Stock Incentives and Compensation

Microsoft Stock Incentives and Compensation Learn How to Make The Most of Your Microsoft Stock Incentives and Compensation   Microsoft employees have the ability to acquire company stock in a few different ways: in your Microsoft 401(k), your Microsoft Employee...

Understanding the 83(b) Election and Restricted Stock

Understanding the 83(b) Election and Restricted Stock

Understanding the 83(b) Election and Restricted Stock How The 83(b) Election Can Effect The Taxation of Restricted Company Stock   The 83(b) election must be made within 30 days of receiving restricted stock and can substantially reduce the associated tax...

Market Update – August 2023

Market Update – August 2023

Market Update - August 2023 An Update On The Markets, Economic Changes, and Political Variables   Market Performance It has been a relatively volatile month within a strong year-to-date run for the stock market. The last two weeks have seen a number of economic...