Year’s end is approaching, bringing with it the potential for some sticky date-of-gift questions.
First, let’s be clear about what’s meant by “date of gift.” This is the date the gift is made for federal income tax purposes. There is only one such date (day). For this year-end, it’s going to fall into either 2016 or 2017. And for noncash gifts, it’s the valuation date. So, a lot may be at stake.
The date-of-gift rules are clearest for gifts of cash and gifts of stock certificates. A gift by means of a check (one form of cash gift) is complete on the date of mailing if the check is mailed to a charity, provided the check clears donor’s bank in due course. Note that the mailing date may be different from the postmark date. A mailbox rule, as it’s called, also applies to stock certificates mailed with necessary signatures. Mailing, by the way, means via the U.S. Postal Service.
If a check, stock certificate or cash is hand-delivered to someone authorized to accept gifts on behalf of the donee organization, the date of gift is the date of delivery.
If a private delivery service (PDS) is used to deliver the donated item, the date of gift is the date of delivery to the donee organization; unless the PDS has been engaged by the donee (as opposed to the donor) to effect delivery, in which case the date of gift is the date the item is transferred to the PDS (the theory being that here, the PDS is acting as the donee’s agent).
We need to discuss some other situations, including gifts by way of credit card, gifts “in kind,” CRT gifts and gift annuities. Which we’ll do next time.
By Jon Tidd