An accountant can set you up for giving

By 
  • October 29, 2006

People might think of accountants as the guys with sharp pencils who keep the money safely in their clients’ pockets, but a chartered accountant might also be the ideal person to talk to about emptying those pockets.

When it comes to giving money away, a tax lawyer and the development director of the intended charity will have some good advice, but it takes an accountant to make it personal.

“I would know the affairs of my client better than the lawyer and better than the development officer,” explains Carlo De Pellegrin, a partner with Williams and Partners Chartered Accountants LLP. “And I would certainly be able to get to the knowledge of the affairs of a stranger, from a tax perspective, quicker and better than either of those two guys.”

That doesn’t make the accountant Dr. No when it comes to charitable giving. De Pellegrin told The Catholic Register he can’t recall ever advising a client not to give to charity.

“The only thing that I might do is I might be a little biased toward Catholic charities,” he said.

De Pellegrin believes there’s work to be done convincing people to be a little more generous.

“I see some fairly substantial incomes with almost invisible donations,” he said.

If people are afraid to give, it’s usually their accountant who can put giving into perspective.

“People oftentimes don’t understand the legislation and don’t understand what they can do,” said De Pellegrin.

It’s the accountant who can advise a donor about donation credits which can be carried forward from previous tax years, or credits that might be carried forward into the future. Many people may have heard that capital gains taxes have been eliminated from gifts of appreciated securities, but it takes an accountant to show the average donor how that change in the tax rules will benefit the gift and the giver, De Pellegrin said.

“The question is, how does it affect the individual rather than the public generally?” he said.

For large donors, talking to their CA should come naturally, said De Pellegrin.

“The individual who is in a position to make a gift of $10,000 and north most likely is already using the services of a chartered accountant for his tax planning,” he said.

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