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Letters to the Editor

November 25, 2009

Make the most of year-end giving



To the editor:

Our nation's tax laws purposefully encourage charitable giving, so why not take advantage of them?

This is the time of year to review your charitable giving for 2009 and make sure you have accomplished what you want and have received the best tax advantages that are available. There is still time to act and here is a quick checklist to help you.

Gifts of cash. This is the simplest way to give and to save, as long as your gift is postmarked by Dec. 31. Let's say you are in the 33 percent tax bracket and you give a cash gift of $5,000. You could be saving $1,650 in taxes so that the real "cost" of your gift is only $3,350. Just make sure you receive and save the tax acknowledgment.

Gifts of stock. With the rise of the stock market this year, gifts of appreciated stock are once again appealing because of the double tax savings. When you donate the stock, you may get to deduct the full fair-market value and you avoid paying the capital gains on the appreciation. You can deduct an amount up to 30 percent of your adjusted gross income, carrying forward higher values for up to five years.

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Life income gifts. You can also consider gifts that will provide you annual income, as well as tax savings, like charitable gift annuities or charitable remainder trusts. Consult your tax adviser or the Community Foundation for more information on these options.

Charitable IRA rollover. Currently an option for 2009 only, this provision in the tax law allows for donors older than 70 to make a gift directly from their IRA to a qualified charity without paying federal income taxes on the distribution. Thanks to decades of deliberate saving and favorable investment returns, a substantial share of today's retirees have more money in their IRAs than they will ever need. Leaving IRAs to beneficiaries might draw additional tax consequences, as a large portion of IRA wealth goes to estate taxes and income taxes of beneficiaries. There are some restrictions, but this new law might make it the perfect time to create or add up to $100,000 to an endowment fund for a favorite organization or cause.

With any financial planning exercise, you should consult your tax adviser or CPA to learn more. The Community Foundation has resources to help you make the most of your charitable giving. The organizations that you choose to support will thank you for taking advantage of Uncle Sam's generous tax laws.

One last thought regarding office holiday parties and gift-giving. In light of the current economy and the large number of critical needs in our communities, can I respectfully suggest that you do away with the holiday office party and gift exchange? Instead, pool the money that you would have spent on a party or gifts and make a donation to a charity that is helping to alleviate the suffering. I believe that is the true spirit of the Christmas season and we will all benefit from such actions.

Thank you for your consideration and have a meaningful holiday season.

Bradley N. Sell
executive director
Community Foundation of Washington County MD Inc.




Thanks to all who supported IDEA Challenge



To the editor:

As the members of the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition prepare to celebrate this year's Thanksgiving holiday, we pause in the midst of our preparations to express our gratitude to some of the businesses and community organizations that so generously supported our first Teen IDEA (Individual Decision Empowerment and Awareness) Challenge last spring:

Hagerstown Community College, Washington County Gaming Commission, Washington County Community Partnership, Washington County Health Department, Community Action Council, Washington County Public Schools and Student Government Association, Washington County Health System, United Way of Washington County, Washington County Free Library, Washington County Department of Social Services, Greater Hagerstown Committee, Washington County Sheriff's Department, Maryland State Police, Pepsi Bottling Group, Best Buy, Girls Inc., Phantom Shadow Entertainment, Community Rescue Service, Olympia Trophies, Rocky's Pizza at Robinwood, Community Free Clinic and Tri-State Health Center.

We are also thankful for new partners who will join us on March 21, 2010, at HCC's Athletic, Recreation and Community Center for the next Teen IDEA Challenge. I am personally thankful for a board of directors, which give new meaning to the term "working board." Their tireless efforts and continuing generosity have had a tremendous impact in our county. And we are always grateful for new partners and supporters.

You can find further information by visiting www.TeensHaveChoices.org, by calling 301-671-3000 or by attending our holiday open house on Dec. 4 from 12:30 to 2 p.m.

Shalom Black Lane,
executive director
Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition




Brady's letter on SAT data was outstanding



To the editor:

Bob Brady is to be highly commended for his outstanding letter that appeared in the Nov. 8 edition of The Herald-Mail regarding the Washington County Board of Education's "interpretation" of SAT data.

Brady's thorough research and intelligent analysis are exactly what should be forthcoming from a member of the board, and I sincerely hope he decides to run for a seat. He certainly has my vote.

The educational emperor is, indeed, naked. Thank you, Bob Brady, for saying so.

Austin Gisriel
Williamsport

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