Letters to the Editor - Dec. 4

December 04, 2011

How to 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? With some of the revenue-generating ideas in Congress, this might be the last year to take advantage of these savings. And now is the time of year to review your charitable giving for 2011 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 25 percent tax bracket and you give a cash gift of $5,000. You could be saving $1,250 in taxes, so the real "cost" of your gift is only $3,750!  Just make sure you receive and save the tax acknowledgement.

 Gifts of stock. Gifts of appreciated stock are 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.

 Charitable IRA rollover. Currently an option for 2011 only, this provision in the tax law allows for donors over age 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 is 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. If you need suggestions on agencies to support, give us a call at the Community Foundation.

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

Brad Sell, executive director

Community Foundation of Washington County MD Inc.

Please return SWAT sign; no questions asked

To the editor:

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the Boonsboro High School Environmental Club assembled to collect litter and recyclables for our Adopt-A-Highway (AAH) program along Md. 67 in Boonsboro. For safety reasons, the State Highway Administration provides two bright orange diamond-shaped SWAT (Stop Waste and Trash) signs to attach to our AAH signs at each end of our route.

Once we reached our sign at Reno Monument Road, we found our orange SWAT sign had been stolen. This orange sign alerts drivers to be cautious for the next 2 miles as our students are on the shoulder of the road, cleaning up litter. This was a thoughtless, inconsiderate and dangerous action.

We would appreciate our orange SWAT sign being returned to the main office of Boonsboro High School, as soon as possible, no questions asked. The next time you are thinking of doing something like this, think twice, then don't.

Kathy Vesely, co-adviser

Boonsboro High School Environmental Club

Thanks to many, aviation museum's event a success

To the editor:

A successful event relies on many committed individuals and organizations. The recent Hagerstown Aviation Museum's Wings & Wheels Expo 2011 held Oct. 15 and 16 at Hagerstown Regional Airport is no exception.

County government, local industry and manufacturers, military and private-sector job-training opportunities, nonprofits, for-profits, and volunteers both from the museum and community worked to make this display of wheeled transportation-related equipment and historic and vintage aircraft a success.

Specifically, the museum would like to thank the Washington County Board of County Commissioners for its support; management and staff of Hagerstown Regional Airport for their efforts in event and logistic planning; the many exhibitors who provided the static displays of historic aircraft, cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, military vehicles, law enforcement and emergency/fire/rescue vehicles; the various nonprofit and for-profit vendors; the Experimental Aircraft Association's Chapter 36 for providing free airplane rides for youth ages 8 to 17; the Civil Air Patrol for assisting in parking and traffic logistics; and the dedication of numerous volunteers.

Proceeds from Expo 2011 will help the museum's ongoing effort to develop a visitor center and facility to house the museum's growing collection of historic aviation artifacts, its archives and its more than 15 museum-owned military and commercial aircraft, most of which were built in Hagerstown. The staff and membership of the museum look forward to continuing to promote local aviation history, job opportunities, tourism, economic development and educational programs at the next Hagerstown Wings & Wheels Expo to be held Sept. 22 and 23, 2012.

John Seburn, president

Hagerstown Aviation Museum

Let's call it what it is, a Christmas tree

To the editor:

It's starting already. I am reading things in the paper like, "the lighting of the community tree" or "the holiday tree."

In America, we have celebrated Christmas since the founding of our great nation. It is a celebration of the birth of the Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is a time to reflect upon the blessings that have been bestowed upon this great nation because we were founded on the principles and precepts of the Holy Bible. It is for these reasons that this nation has experienced the freedoms and privileges that we enjoy.

We have removed God from our public schools and now we are making an attempt to remove Him completely from our society. We have made way too much "progress" in that area. The Holy Bible says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." It is because in the founding of this country our forefathers gave God His rightful place that we are the great nation that we are. But our attempts to remove God from the forefront have had many negative and devastating results.  

My point is this: It is the Christmas season. It is not just a holiday. It is a season of worshiping the One who gave His life that we may have a future in heaven. Christ is the reason for celebrating Christmas. It is not illegal to say Merry Christmas in public schools in spite of what some might have us believe. It is also not illegal to say it when we shop. When someone tells you to have a happy holiday this year, I hope you will reply to them to have a Merry Christmas.

Christ is the reason for the season.

Richard Hull


Senate supercommittee failed miserably

To the editor:

Let's say you were the head of a trillion-dollar company, and you entrusted 12 of your highest-paid top executives to find a solution to a severe budget deficit. If after several months they failed to complete the assigned task, would you give them their termination notice?

The failure of the Senate supercommittee reminds me of a scripture reading I recently heard in church (Matthew 25: 14-30). In this reading, the master entrusts his servants with a number of talents with an expectation of a favorable return. One servant fails to provide a suitable return and is thrown into darkness "where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

We can only hope that the voters of the various states will provide these senators with their just rewards at the next election opportunity. Some "wailing and grinding" for these 12 could be a wonderful learning tool for the rest of Congress.

Dick Byrne

Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

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