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Now is the Time for Year-End Giving

The Time is Now for Year-End Giving

With the 2015 calendar year drawing to a close, an easy and rewarding way to help you achieve both your financial and philanthropic objectives is to increase deductions on your federal income tax return through charitable giving. Timing and attention to requirements is critical, though! Some types of gifts must be received by us before the year’s end. Donors must pay close attention as to the type of gift, the method by which it is transferred, and the applicable deadlines.

Below are the deadlines that must be met for different types of gifts to comply with IRS requirements and allow for gift processing and acknowledgement so that the donor may treat the gift for 2015 tax purposes.

Cash or Check

1) Gifts of cash or check hand delivered to our office by noon on December 30.

2) Gifts made by check dated on or before December 31 and mailed via the U.S. Postal Service with a postmark stamped on or before December 31.

3) Checks sent by a medium other than U.S. mail (such as FedEx or UPS) must be received at our office by noon on December 31.

Credit Card

Credit card gifts are effective on the date your card is charged (allowing time for the charge to be completely processed), thus:

1) Credit card gifts mailed via U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and UPS must be received at our office by close of business on December 28.

2) Credit card gifts via telephone must be completed by close of business on December 28.

3) Credit card gifts made online must be completed by December 28.

Publicly Traded Appreciated Securities

The effective date of the gift depends upon how the securities are transferred—hand delivered, U.S. mail, FedEx, UPS, private courier, or electronic transfer—and who they are delivered to. Privately held stock and mutual fund shares typically require more time and may not be able to meet the deadline of December 31. Publicly traded securities, however, should not be a problem.

For detailed information on how to gift securities to the United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV), you may access our one page procedure sheet on the UWPV website by clicking here. The form includes the name and contact information of our local stockbroker representative. The gift must be credited to the UWPV account by close of our stock brokerage firm’s business on December 3to count as a 2015 gift.

Gifts from an IRA

These gifts can be made in potentially either of two ways: the IRA charitable rollover (restricted to IRAs only) if legislatively enacted for calendar year 2015 or by making a withdrawal followed by a charitable gift from an IRA or other qualified retirement plan including 401(k), 403(b), and Keogh plans as examples.

The IRA charitable rollover provides a simple, tax advantaged method for those over age 70 ½ to make a charitable gift. Its extension for 2015, however, is bogged down in Congress. A vote is scheduled for December 11. Timing, deadlines and other requirements will be dependent upon final statutory language.

The rollover procedure calls for a direct transfer from the donor’s trustee or IRA administrator to the charitable organization. As such, the amount of the gift—up to a $100,000 maximum—is not taken into income nor is a corresponding deduction available. It may be used, though, to satisfy a donor’s required minimum distribution (RMD) for 2015. This gift is called a qualified charitable distribution or QCD. The rollover provision has a history of being re-enacted at the last minute, so it is most likely to be available for 2015, but not as of this writing. Its status will be publicized once Congress acts.

As an alternative, a charitable gift may be made via an IRA withdrawal followed by a subsequent gift to a charitable organization (remember there is a 10% premature distribution penalty if the donor is younger than 59½ and required minimum distributions must begin by age 70½). This alternative works with qualified retirement plans as well as IRAs. In this case, the withdrawal amount must be included in the donor’s income, and, assuming this amount is gifted to charity, a corresponding deduction is available to “zero out” the transaction. If your gift is made by check, refer to the section above entitled gifts made by cash or check.

Note: The potential downside of this method is that the donor’s adjusted gross income will be inflated by the amount of the withdrawal even though subsequently deducted. Adjusted gross income is a threshold upon which a number of deductions, exemptions and credits are based, and this may negatively impact some donor/taxpayer’s income tax liability. The 50% of adjusted gross income deduction limitation also applies to non-IRA charitable rollover gifts.

Roth IRA Conversion during 2015

Another strategy that some individuals incorporate into their long range financial plan, but that creates a current income taxable event is a Roth IRA conversion. If you converted your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA during 2015, you will have triggered additional income tax liability. A charitable gift made in the same calendar year as a Roth conversion can provide a deduction that can reduce this increased liability. A window of opportunity exists if you have not considered this tax reduction idea. If your gift is made by check, refer to the section above entitled gifts made by cash or check.

SUMMARY: Year-end charitable giving provides individuals with an opportunity to obtain desired, last minute tax deductions while advancing their philanthropic objectives; however, close attention must be paid as to the type of gift, the method by which it is transferred, and the deadline that must be met for the gift to qualify as being made and deductible in 2015.

Questions should be directed to Steven Toth, JD, MS, CLU, ChFC at UWPV.

Office: 413-693-0237


 Disclaimer: United Way of Pioneer Valley does not provide legal, tax, accounting or other related professional advice. Such advice must be sought from the reader’s own professional advisors. The information provided here is for general informational purposes only.

UWPV and Partners Open Third Thrive Center

The Thrive Center @ Springfield Technical Community College Opens 

Springfield, Mass.— Today, a new Thrive Financial Success Center opened at the Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). Thrive is a collaborative effort between United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) and STCC to provide financial education and support services to students and community residents. Thrive@ STCC is supported by PeoplesBank , MassMutual Financial Group, the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, United Way of Pioneer Valley, and the STCC Foundation.

“After the success of the Thrive Financial Success Centers at Holyoke Community College and in downtown Holyoke, we are thrilled to open a third Thrive Center at Springfield Technical Community College,” Dora D. Robinson, President and CEO, United Way of Pioneer Valley said. “At the United Way of Pioneer Valley, we believe basic financial literacy should be a key aspect of everyone’s education. No career goal or life’s ambition should be hindered because a person doesn’t know how to balance their checkbook or maintain a good credit rating.”

Thrive@ STCC anticipates it will serve 400 individuals in its first year of operation. Program offerings include confidential benefits screening and enrollment; money skills class; individual financial coaching sessions; free income tax prep through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program; links to workforce development and training workshops; and MassMutual’s LifeBridge program, a free life insurance program.

Thrive Centers currently operate in partnership with the United Way at Holyoke Community College and at the Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center in downtown Holyoke.

“Building financial awareness and planning skills is essential to our students’ and our community’s economic prosperity,” said STCC President Ira H. Rubenzahl. “Many of our students are over burdened with outside financial struggles. Coupling career guidance with access to financial coaching will assist Thrive participants to make informed decisions that will make their lives easier, allow them to remain focused on their studies, and prepare them for future employment.”


VITA Needs You!

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) relies on dedicated volunteers to provide free tax services to low and moderate income residents of Hampden county each year from mid-January through mid-April. Volunteers are trained by the IRS.

We need volunteers to:

  • prepare taxes
  • greet clients
  • translate
  • coordinate VITA sites

To sign up, contact one of the following agencies:

Springfield Partners for Community Action
721 State Street, Springfield, MA 01109

Valley Opportunity Council
35 Mt. Carmel Ave, Chicopee, MA 01013


VITA is a project supported by these organizations:



Year End Tax: Giving Appreciated Securities/Stock

As year–end approaches, tax saving strategies become widely publicized. One of the most popular strategies available to taxpayers who itemize is to make a gift to a qualified charitable organization. Charitable gifts made by year’s end entitle a donor to an income tax deduction.

While a gift in cash, via check or credit card to the United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) is always welcome during the holiday season, donating appreciated securities (shares of stock with significant gains) is frequently overlooked and offers the donor both a deduction plus a savings of capital gains tax applicable when the securities are sold.

Gifting of appreciated securities to UWPV is relatively simple. A one-page procedures sheet is available on the UWPV website, or simply give us a call and we will promptly mail it to you.

How It Works

Assume Arthur purchased 100 shares of stock for $10,000.00 ($100.00 per share) twenty years ago. The stock is now worth $50,000.00. If Arthur decides to sell the stock in 2015 he would have to include a capital gain of $40,000.00 into income. Depending upon Arthur’s federal income tax bracket, he could incur additional capital gains tax of up to $8000.00 (20%). (To simplify this example, neither the Massachusetts capital gains tax nor 3.8% Medicare surtax are considered.)

Rather than sell the stock, if Arthur gave it to UWPV, he would be entitled to a deduction of $50,000.00–an amount equal to the full fair market value of the stock. Since he is giving the stock, rather than selling it, he would incur no capital gains tax. Again, depending upon his federal tax bracket, he could enjoy a tax savings of as much as $19,800.00 in the top bracket of 39.6% (and as examples, tax savings of $17,500.00 in the 35% bracket, $14,000 at 28%, and $7500.00 at 25%). This potential tax savings may offset some of Arthur’s other taxable income thus mitigating his overall 2015 federal tax liability. 

Points to remember:

1) A donor’s federal income tax bracket determines the rate and amount of capital gains tax when appreciated stock is sold and the tax savings obtained if the stock is donated to charity.

2) The deduction for a gift of appreciated securities/stock to charity is limited to no more than 30% of the donor’s adjusted gross income in the year of the gift, but any remaining unused deduction may be taken each year up to the 30% limit for up to an additional five years.

If you want to make a gift, but own stock that has a loss as opposed to a gain, it is recommended that you sell it first enabling you to take any loss on your income tax return and gift the net proceeds in cash to UWPV.

The prevailing practice among charitable organizations including UWPV is to liquidate gifted stock.

Planning ideas funded by gifts of appreciated securities/stock

1) A donor age 65 or older may establish a charitable gift annuity ($25,000.00 minimum) that will pay him (and spouse) a joint and survivor, guaranteed, fixed income for life.

2) A donor in mid-to-late career (typically approximate minimum age 45 to 50) may establish a deferred charitable gift annuity ($25,000.00 minimum) to supplement their retirement plan income. A joint and survivor option is also available.

Note: Charitable gift annuities and deferred charitable gift annuities are governed by federal tax law. Most notably, since income is being paid to the donor based largely upon the amount of the gift and donor/annuitant’s age, the amount of the donor’s deduction must be reduced to less than full fair market value based upon an IRS formula.

Note: If you want to explore a charitable gift annuity or deferred charitable gift annuity, please speak with UWPV first to obtain a proposal as your decision to establish a gift annuity must be made prior to or at the same time as your gift of stock. United Way Worldwide (not UWPV) enters the gift annuity agreement with the donor. The financial backing of the national United Way organization as payor is a strong incentive to establish a gift annuity.

3) A donor may use a gift of stock to provide premium for a new or existing life insurance policy owned by or transferred to UWPV.

4) A donor may establish a charitable remainder trust. Although a charitable remainder trust provides the same basic benefits to the donor and charitable recipient as a charitable gift annuity, they are expensive to create and administer thus requiring a large gift of stock to be economically feasible.

5) A donor may use a gift of stock to fulfill a pledge obligation.

A year end gift of appreciated securities to UWPV not only provides you with significant tax benefits and savings, but shows your commitment to improving the lives of the residents of Pioneer Valley.

Questions should be directed to Steven Toth, JD, MS, CLU, ChFC at UWPV.

Office: 413-693-0237
Cell: 804-380-5372

Disclaimer: United Way of Pioneer Valley does not provide legal, tax, accounting or other related professional advice. Such advice must be sought from the reader’s own advisors. The information provided here is for general informational purposes only.



Second Thrive Center to Open in Holyoke



HOLYOKE – Holyoke Community College, the United Way of Pioneer Valley and PeoplesBank will celebrate the grand opening of their second Thrive financial success center on Tuesday, November 10, at 11 a.m..

The new Thrive center will be located on the first floor of the Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center at 206 Maple St., Holyoke, and will be open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8:30 to 4:30.

Thrive offers free and confidential screening for public benefits, individual financial coaching sessions, money skills classes, workforce training workshops and free tax preparation services to both HCC students and members of the community.

“This new Thrive office builds on the success we’ve experienced with the first Thrive center here on the HCC campus,” said HCC President Bill Messner. “It makes terrific sense to bring these same financial services into the center of downtown Holyoke, closer to people who might need them.”

Since it opened in February on the second floor of HCC’s Frost Building, Thrive@HCC has served more than 350 people, 80 percent of them HCC students and the rest local residents.

Scheduled to speak at the Nov. 10 grand opening are HCC president Bill Messner; state representative Aaron Vega, Holyoke mayor Alex Morse, United Way president Dora Robinson, PeoplesBank executive vice president Thomas Senecal, and Thrive coordinator Crystal Colon. For more information about Thrive and its services, please go to

Comcast Announces Fifth Back-to-School Kickoff for Internet Essentials

Comcast Logo




Comcast today announced several significant enhancements and milestones for Internet Essentials, the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program. The company said it plans to double the service’s download Internet speed, offer subscribers a Wi-Fi router for no additional cost, and conduct several pilot programs for low-income senior citizens. (Read More)

Stuff the Bus Kick-off Event 7/24!

Join us Friday, July 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. inside the Holyoke Mall near Sears/Guest Services (50 Holyoke Street) for a FREE, family friendly kick-off event for Stuff the Bus!

WHO: United Way of Pioneer Valley, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Stuff the Bus sponsors and special guests including Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse

WHAT: Kick-off event for United Way of Pioneer Valley Stuff the Bus program

WHEN: Friday, July 24, 2015 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (media event will run from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.)

WHERE: Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, 50 Holyoke Street, inside in front of Sears and Guest Services

WHY: To raise public awareness and collect donations for Stuff the Bus program. The United Way of Pioneer Valley, in partnership with Peter Pan Bus Company, is collecting school supplies to fill over 1,300 backpacks for children who are homeless in Springfield, Holyoke, Westfield, Chicopee, West Springfield, and South Hadley.

DETAILS: This is a family friendly event that will feature arts & crafts and coloring tables, free and discounted passes to Six Flags New England, raffles for museum passes and gift cards, and a visit from Little Pete the Bus (from Peter Pan Bus Lines). The media portion will run from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.; the family friendly activities will start at 10:30 a.m. and run through 12:00 p.m.

Opening Doors in Western MA: Ending Homelessness

Western MA Opening Doors sets forth a framework to end homelessness in the region by stating our goal and defining where we are, where we want to go, and how we will get there. Made possible with support from the Commonwealth, the Western MA Network to End Homelessness created this Plan to drive ongoing collective impact work to meet the goals of “Opening Doors: the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.”

Opening Doors in Western MA 2015 Final June 30 (1)

Springfield Partners for Community Action Scholarships

Springfield Partners for Community Action awards 10 Community Scholarships of $1,000 each (one will actually be $1,200 if they are pursuing a technology related field). Scholarships are available to both adult learners and 2014 high school graduates.

The deadline to apply for scholarships is May 15, 2015 at noon. Scholarships will be distributed at an awards breakfast on June 25, 2015; winners must be at the breakfast to receive an award.

All applicants must be Springfield residents enrolled in an accredited college or vocational school in Massachusetts; demonstrate community involvement; and meet income guidelines. Applicants may pick up an application at the Springfield Partners main office, 721 State Street, 2nd Floor, Springfield.

Since 2003, Springfield Partners has awarded more than 150 scholarships to low-income Springfield residents seeking economic self-sufficiency through education. The Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development has been the major funder of these scholarship awards over the years.

Springfield Partners for Community Action is the official anti-poverty agency for the city of Springfield. The agency has several other programs including home Weatherization Assistance, New Beginnings Childcare, Income Tax Assistance, Job Readiness, and more.

scholarship application 2015

Scholarships Flyer 2015

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