CARES Act Rewards Charitable Acts

(Excerpt from: How Does the CARES Act affect Your Giving? 5/06/20, Vanguard

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law in late March. The $2.2 trillion bill was designed to respond on many fronts to the COVID-19 crisis. It includes provisions related to charitable giving, although some of those provisions specifically exclude contributions to donor-advised funds.

For those who itemize their deductions:

Donors who itemize their deductions can now give more to charity before reaching their adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation. Formerly set at 60%, the limitation for cash contributions to certain public charities has now been raised to 100% of an individual’s AGI for 2020. Any giving beyond this 100% limitation may be carried over and used in the next five years.

This provision excludes giving to private nonoperating foundations and supporting organizations, along with any contributions made to establish or maintain donor-advised funds (DAFs) like those held at Vanguard Charitable.

This means that Vanguard Charitable donors who exhaust the 60% limit with cash contributions to their DAFs in 2020 could make any additional donations outside their DAF and have those donations qualify for a deduction (up until reaching the 100% limit). Please consult a tax advisor to discuss your specific circumstances.

For those who don’t itemize their deductions:

The CARES Act allows for up to $300 in charitable contributions to qualify as an above-the-line deduction, meaning you don’t have to itemize deductions in order to claim the $300 as a deduction. Qualifying donations must be made in cash or cash equivalents (as opposed to stock, for example) and cannot be directed to supporting organizations or DAFs.

(Excerpt from: How Does the CARES Act Affect Your Giving? 5/06/20, Vanguard

Buying a Home During COVID-19 – Things to Consider

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the way we go about our everyday lives has changed drastically and many people who were considering buying a home before the outbreak now have quite a number of questions regarding the process.

Among the most common questions are probably Is it a good time to buy property? or Will house prices drop? We have to say that these are all legitimate and in this article, we’ll do our best to give our readers the answers they need. 

First of all, since the beginning of the pandemic, the real estate industry has been considered as a “Critical Sector.” This means that certain security measures have to be applied to fight the spreading of the virus. 

The only problem is, buying a house during the pandemic still requires a lot of face-to-face interactions, so here a few things you should keep in mind before you start looking for your next home. 

Virtual Tours

In most places, open houses have been suspended. As the option of an open-house showing is currently not available (or not recommended), some realtors replaced them with virtual tours via their websites, Zoom, or Facebook Live. On the other hand, virtual tours are highly advised and have significantly improved since before the outbreak. Tours are now more in-depth and show both the inside of the house along with the outside and the surrounding areas. 

Virtual Tours

Showings and Safety Measures

Schedule a showing only if you are serious. Since realtors have to comply with the new safety measures, showings are recommended to be scheduled only when buyers are serious about the purchase and want to become homeowners. You may also be asked to drive separately from the realtor and practice social distancing during the showing (stand 6 feet apart from each other). Also, if you are feeling sick before the showing, consider rescheduling the event. 

During the Showing 

In most cases, only one person is allowed in the home at a time with the agent. Realtors should also provide masks, foot covers, disposable gloves, and hand sanitizer. Buyers are highly encouraged to walk with their hands in their pockets to avoid touching surfaces. 

Be Responsible

Even though realtors have strict guidelines to stick to when it comes to safety, you should also set your own boundaries and convey them to your agent before scheduling a showing.

Some processes may be exclusively online, while closings may also differ – pre-approvals, disclosures, and purchase agreements will mostly happen online. Closing companies may also choose to conduct their processes remotely, while some will still to them in person. When the latter is the case, social distancing is still a must.

What About Prices? 

So far, there’s an evident drop in property transactions, along with property prices too. However, experts are commenting that the latter may just be a short-term effect and that house prices will bounce back. Also, luxury estates are more affected by the pandemic price-wise than lower-priced properties. 

The Takeaway

The processes involved in buying a house have changed, and safety measures should be practiced at all times, even though most things happen online. On the other hand, the biggest concern in buying a house might just be the uncertainty of the economy. If you are financially affected by the pandemic, it’s best to wait a bit until your finances are back in check again.