Sat, Feb

Now is better time than December to push tax credits

Editors Notebook

Local nonprofits push hard for tax credit donations at the end of each year, but their timing is off to gain the most donations.

December seems to be when taxpayers are bombarded by various organizations seeking donations through the state’s tax credit program before the Jan. 1 deadline hits.

December is also when people throw holiday parties, buy gifts and spend money traveling to see friends and family. It’s not the best time to be asking for money, even if it’s only a couple of hundred dollars.

Qualified nonprofit organizations should campaign at the beginning of the year instead.

Employers are distributing income tax forms now and people are preparing to file their 2011 taxes — this is when they are thinking about possible write-offs.

Granted, making a tax donation now won’t affect a person’s 2011 contribution, but the looming April deadline puts people in tax mode, a perfect time to talk to them about directing their state dollars toward a local nonprofit rather than paying them into the state pool for 2012.

After holiday spending sprees rather than in the middle of them is also a better time to approach people about donations.

Writing a check for up to $400 can seem like a stretch when lumped with holiday expenses.

Another perk to hitting donors up now is if people do not have their paperwork filed in a way allowing them to donate through the tax credit program, they have time to change it and still donate this year.

If an individual’s withholdings result in the person receiving money from the state or the individual does not regularly itemize their taxes, the program’s incentives are weakened.

However, if a nonprofit approaches this individual in January or February, the person has time to change his or her withholdings in plenty of time to participate.

In December, it’s too late to make the change for that year.

Many of the organizations serving those in need in our communities rely heavily on the tax credit program making donations a vital component of their budgets.

If the big campaign to encourage contributions started earlier in the year, I think nonprofits would see a higher donation total at the end of the year.