What Can You Give?


Cash gifts can be made by check or charged to a credit card. Charitable gifts of cash are deductible up to 50% of the donor’s adjusted gross income in the year of the gift with any balance carried forward up to five more years. In valuing any charitable gift for tax purposes, the donor must reduce the gift amount by the fair market value of any goods or services received from the charity.

Strategy Tip:
If you come to the end of a calendar year and determine that you will have a greater income that year than expected, a charitable gift made by credit card is one way to accelerate a deduction into one calendar year and actually pay for the gift in the following year.



For a gift of appreciated securities, a donor is entitled to an income tax deduction for the full fair market value of the securities up to 30% of adjusted gross income, with any balance carried forward up to an additional five years. In order for the gift to be fully deductible, the donor must have held the asset for more than one year. The value of the gift is the average of the high and low market prices on the date the securities are transferred to Wharton.

The transfer of stock from a donor to Wharton is a fairly simple transaction. Morgan Stanley serves as the University’s main brokerage firm. The donor will need to work directly with his or her broker to initiate a transfer of stock to The Wharton School. If the donor holds certificates, it is best if those certificates remain unendorsed and the donor completes a separate stock power form authorizing transfer of ownership from the donor to Wharton. Remember to notify the Office of Gift Planning at 215.898.6171 and the University’s Treasurer’s Office at 215.898.7254 when transferring securities.

Strategy Tip:
If a donor wishes to maintain stock holdings in a specific company, it may make sense to give appreciated shares to Wharton and then buy an equivalent number of shares with cash, thus establishing a new, higher cost basis.



Designating The Wharton School as the beneficiary of retirement assets is one of the smartest ways for donors to make a gift to Wharton and bypass multiple levels of taxation. First, qualified retirement savings are generally subject to federal income tax as they are withdrawn from the plan. Second, failure to take the required minimum distribution after age 70 1/2 results in a 50% tax on the undistributed amount. Third, at death, any remaining account balance is included in the calculation of the gross estate and may be subject to both income and estate taxes. Fourth, a generation-skipping tax may apply to substantial account balances that pass to grandchildren or to other remote generations. These taxes can consume up to 75% of the retirement assets.

However, careful planning for the disposition of retirement plan assets can help to avoid undesirable tax costs. Naming Wharton as the beneficiary of a retirement plan will reduce the size of a taxable estate and avoid income taxation on those funds. In certain situations, a charitable gift of a retirement account can improve the donor’s overall tax consequences, increase the amounts passing to heirs, and escape income and estate taxes.

Strategy Tip:
A simple form from the manager of the retirement fund is all that is required to name The Wharton School as a beneficiary.



There are a number of ways to structure a gift of real estate, each with its own advantages. For example, some gifts may be set up to provide an income stream. Real estate gifts can be made in the form of undeveloped property, a personal residence or farm, rental property, or commercial property. The owner of the property may be entitled to an income tax deduction based on the appraised value of the property.

The donor must submit a copy of a qualified appraisal with his/her income tax return for the year of the gift. Also, IRS Form 8283 must be submitted and signed by Wharton acknowledging receipt of the gift. The University of Pennsylvania carefully examines each piece of real estate prior to its acceptance as a gift in order to ensure its usefulness to the University.

Strategy Tip:
Real estate gifts take a number of steps to complete. Contact the Wharton early in your planning to facilitate the efficient gathering of information.



Life Insurance can provide a great giving opportunity in at least two simple ways:
Donating a fully paid-up life insurance policy naming Wharton as irrevocable owner and beneficiary entitles the donor to a charitable income tax deduction for the cash surrender value of the policy. Naming Wharton as beneficiary, without changing ownership of the policy, does not generate an income tax deduction, but it is eligible for the estate tax charitable deduction.



Artworks and other personal property may be given for the unrestricted use of The Wharton School. These items are reviewed for acceptance by the Curator or other appropriate University representative. The donor may be able to deduct the fair market value of the item at the time of the donation, as established by the donor’s independent appraisal. In order to deduct the property’s full fair market value, it must be for a use related to the educational mission of Wharton and have been held by the donor for more than one year.

If the property is valued at more than $5,000, the donor must obtain a qualified appraisal and file IRS Form 8283 with his/her income tax return. Penn must also sign Form 8283 indicating receipt of the gift. If the property is valued at more than $500 but less than $5,000, an appraisal is not required but Form 8283 must still be completed and submitted with the donor’s income tax return.

Strategy Tip:
The cost of obtaining a qualified appraisal for a gift of personal property may be a deductible miscellaneous expense for income tax purposes, subject to IRS limitations.

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