IRS allowing a special charitable tax deduction this year

Dear Friends of Friends Outside:
The IRS is allowing a special charitable tax deduction this year for people who do not plan to itemize their 2020 taxes next year. Every donation is important and will be put to good use, in support of children and families affected by the criminal justice system. Thank you for your consideration and we hope you all have a nice and healthy holiday season.

Here’s how to get this year’s special charitable tax deduction

By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN Business

Updated 9:27 AM ET, Sun December 20, 2020

The pandemic has put millions of Americans in dire financial straits, forcing many to rely on charities to adequately feed and clothe their families and stave off homelessness.

So this year the government has offered an added incentive for Americans to donate to charity. As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, lawmakers created a special one-time deduction to encourage other Americans with some cash to spare to make donations this year. The deduction, which expires on December 31, applies to tax filers who take the standard deduction on their federal tax return. The IRS estimates more than 87% of filers now take the standard deduction.

Normally, only itemizers may claim their charitable contributions, because the lump-sum standard deduction (currently $12,400 for single filers; and $24,800 for married filers) is intended to cover most deductions.  But this year, on top of taking your standard deduction, you also may take a deduction for cash contributions up to $300, so long as you donate that money by December 31. (Note: It does not apply to non-monetary contributions such as clothing or food.)

Although the IRS doesn’t require receipts to be filed with your return, be sure to keep a record of any money you give. “Make sure you document it. Keep your receipts for your cash donations in case you get asked about it later,” said Kathy Pickering, the chief tax officer for H&R Block.  If you’re making a one-time contribution of $250 or more to a single charity or non-profit, get a written acknowledgment of your donation from the organization, Pickering said. If you make donations below $250 to any single group, a canceled check or bank or credit card statement indicating proof of payment should suffice.  And if you’re making contributions through an employer-sponsored giving campaign in which your donation is deducted directly from your paycheck, then your paystub can serve as proof.  One other note: Those who are single or married and filing jointly may deduct up to $300 on their returns, but taxpayers who are married but filing separately may only deduct up to $150 each, Pickering said.

What you’ll be saving

Taking the deduction will of course reduce your tax burden.  For someone in the 12% tax bracket — which applies to single filers making up to roughly $40,000 and married couples making up to about $80,000, according to H&R Block — the deduction would reduce the tax bill by $36 (12% x $300.)  For someone in the 22% bracket, that amount jumps to $66.  But more than the money it saves, any tax-deductible contribution you make can go a long way toward helping charitable organizations — especially the smaller, local ones — continue to be a lifeline for so many in need this year.  Nearly three-quarters of Charity Navigator-rated nonprofits reported that they have suffered financially this year, while more than half have seen an increase in demand, and more than half said they had to cut back on programs.

2020 Toy Drive

Dear Friends of Friends Outside in Los Angeles County:

As you know, many people are suffering during these trying times.  If you are one of the fortunate persons who has enough for yourself and is able to help those who are in need, will you please consider supporting our annual project for children with incarcerated or formerly incarcerated parents?  These children’s separation from one or both parents is even more difficult  this year because family visiting at most prisons and jails is not possible during the pandemic. 

For more than 30 years, we have held parties for these children and want to continue this tradition but in a way that is safe for all involved.   The flyer describes how we will continue to support them even during the pandemic.  Anything you can do to support our efforts will be appreciated. 

With best wishes to all for a healthy and meaningful Holiday Season. 

LET’S GIVE A HURTING CHILD CAUSE TO SMILE IN 2020

girl & boy photo

LET’S GIVE A HURTING CHILD CAUSE TO SMILE IN 2020!

When a parent is incarcerated, the child is separated from a primary source of security.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, since the war on drugs began in the 1980s the rate of children with incarcerated mothers has increased 100% and the rate of those with incarcerated fathers has increased more than 75%. The impact of parental incarceration commonly manifests in increased antisocial behaviors in their children, including severe depression and a greater potential for substance abuse, criminal activity and suicide. The Centers for Disease Control states that these children are more likely to drop out of school.

Friends Outside Los Angeles County is the longest-running and arguably the most cost-effective nonprofit organization serving area families impacted by incarceration.

An estimated 75,000 children in Los Angeles County have an incarcerated parent. But, the good news is that research shows that these children are more resistant to negative outcomes when there is a sustained bond between parent and child and a network for social and financial support.
Established in 1972, our multi-award-winning organization invests nine of every ten dollars directly into services (IRS Form 990, 2018). Each year, we serve approximately 300 children and their incarcerated or formerly incarcerated parents to strengthen their bonds and their social and financial support. Our programs include the Incarcerated Parents Project, an after-school program, a family support group, and the Dads Back! Academy, which builds fatherhood skills and provides reentry employment assistance. 65% of the fathers we assisted through our recent U.S. Department of Labor grant obtained employment. Only 7% returned to prison.

Our services culminate each year with the Thomas Fleming Rhodes Memorial Holiday Party that the children love! I will never forget a comment from one smiling child who exclaimed to me, “This is the first fun thing I have done with my family this whole year!”

At Friends Outside Los Angeles County, caring is contagious. The more caring people who provide support, the more caring support we can provide to families, giving hurting children cause to smile.

Won’t you join our 2020 Care Team and make a generous donation now? We promise to honor how much you care, not just with a note of thanks and a periodic performance update, but also by responsibly managing every dollar to maximize your return on investment while putting smiles on the faces of these children. Thank you!
Sincerely,

Mary Weaver
Executive Director

Giving Tuesday


Dear Friends of Friends Outside:

During a previous Thomas Fleming Rhodes Memorial Holiday Party, young Adam looked up at me and said, “This is the only fun thing my family has done this whole year.” This was not a surprising statement for me. Over the past 30 years I have gotten to know children with incarcerated parents and their families well. Their stories are too similar. And, too many are from impoverished families and live in crime-ridden communities.

Except for an occasional visit to a prison or jail (to keep family bonds strong), their families have limited social lives and cannot afford to participate in the parties that most of us take for granted during the December Holidays. Their children quietly suffer, feel different, and are ashamed of their circumstances.

Your support has enabled us to plan special parties for these children at the time of year that is the most difficult for them. One year a mother told me after the party that her child had thought he was the only one with an incarcerated parent. He then realized he was not alone and didn’t feel so different from the other kids!

Your support for the parties to be held in December will make a world of difference for these children. Won’t you say YES to assuring that they have a wonderful Holiday through your support as follows:

Sponsor: Your $5,000 or $1,000 gift will be the “frosting on the cake” for each party and will enable us to do so much for the families throughout the coming year.

Co-Sponsor: Your $500 gift will sponsor 10 families for the party and help us to provide services to them during the coming year.

Family Sponsor: Your $100 gift will sponsor 2 families for the party and help us to provide services to them during the coming year.

Supporter: Your $50 will be used where it is most needed to support the Holiday Party and to provide services to the families during the coming year.

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Sincerely,

Mary Weaver

Executive Director

P.S. Won’t you please take a moment now to make your tax-deductible donation via PayPal or by sending your check to our offices at 261 E. Colorado Blvd., Ste. 217, Pasadena, CA, 91101? Your contribution will also be a present to yourself when you experience the great joy of what it means to help others who are less fortunate, the true meaning of this special time of year.