Today’s post is written by Valerie Russell, Content Specialist for Ministry Brands. We’re fast approaching the biggest and busiest digital giving days of the year. That’s why we wanted to take a moment to review a very important (though often avoided) topic—taxes. In 2017, Congress overhauled the tax code and passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. These tax changes were the most momentous in 30 years, and the entire tax bill was a whopping 479 pages. While some changes didn’t affect churches, others impact digital giving numbers and admin responsibilities. Here, we look at which tax laws changed and best practices for churches to better prepare for year-end. TAX CHANGES THAT PROVIDE BETTER OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE TO GIVE Fewer people itemize due to the latest tax law revisions, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be less inspired to give. In fact, the opposite might be true for some people. In many ways, the changes to the tax laws leave more money in the pockets of givers, as well as more opportunities to donate. Here are a few of those tax law changes: Child tax credit increased from $1,000 to $2,000 per childThe IRA rollover provision was made permanent. (People older than 70½ can continue to donate directly from their IRA for preferential tax treatment)The charitable giving limit increased to 60% of the taxpayer’s income (10% higher than before). This often benefits wealthier retirees or those with many assets.Corporate taxes fell to the flat rate of 21%, compared to the previous rating system that peaked at 35%. Donors may see additional bonuses and raises from work. BEST PRACTICES FOR CHURCHES TO PREPARE FOR TAX LAWS DURING YEAR-END It takes time for people to get used to new tax laws, even if they leave more money in donors’ bank accounts. That’s why this year, you may notice digital giving patterns are slightly different. Here are a few best practices to better prepare and forecast. Check last year’s digital giving trends and identify those that may have begun combining gifts every 2 years to reach the increased standard deduction. Previously, the standard deduction was $6,350 for individual taxpayers and $12,700 for married couples filing joint returns. In 2018, those numbers increased. For individuals, the standard deduction is now $12,000, and for married couples, it’s $24,000. Many people gave more in 2017 to cover their 2018 year-end donations because this helped them avoid the tax changes. This year, they may combine their digital gifts for 2019 and 2020 to meet the standard deduction. You can expect them to do the same for 2021 and 2022. There’s a wealth of information in the ShelbyNext reporting features. Look through these for deviations in the normal giving patterns. Another best practice is to focus on payroll. It’s a vital part of filing taxes and something the IRS looks at very carefully. Make sure you’re using the 2019 published payroll withholding tables and complying with recent tax code changes. Stay organized by adopting accounting software, like ShelbyNext. This platform includes a payroll module, bank account management, and more. ShelbyNext digital giving software fully integrates with this solution to reduce admin burden and save time. Read the full review of ShelbyNext Financials Church Fund Accounting Software here! HOW TO MAINTAIN (AND EVEN INCREASE!) DIGITAL GIVING BEFORE TAX SEASON Year-end is the ideal time to remind donors that tithing is an act of spiritual discipline. It’s not one that should be based solely on preferential tax treatment. An excellent way to maintain consistent generosity and inspire spiritual maturity is to encourage donors sign up for recurring giving. The latest tax laws simplify filing because fewer people have to itemize. Let donors know they can also simplify their gifts to the church. Not only do recurring gifts help donors manage their finances, but it’s an excellent way for churches to better forecast and create a long-term strategy to further their vision. Shelby Systems is committed to helping churches large and small streamline their giving process. We provide the software and the plan that can help your church make the leap to digital giving. To find out how, contact one of our Ministry Consultants today.