By Suzanne Marais, 10th December 2015
Every December Suzanne Marais, a tax consultant at Sanlam Group Tax Services, invites friends for a festive dinner. ‘It’s wonderful to celebrate the festive season with good friends. However, there’s another reason we get together – instead of us just buying each other presents, we spread the joy by donating together towards a good cause.’
The December holiday period is generally seen as the season of giving, but sometimes it may seem difficult to contribute to a good cause when you’re already on a tight budget to meet holiday expenses. Suzanne’s dinner is a great example of how sharing can be turned into caring during this time.
‘It’s important to realise that even though your contribution seems small, there are also other people donating towards the charity and it all adds up to a larger amount. Your contribution is never insignificant, no matter how little it is,’ she says.
There are other ways to contribute to charity if you’re on a very tight budget. Firstly, you can contribute time. Many organisations need physical help, be it to paint a wall, walk dogs or to read to people in old-age homes. One less lazy afternoon in your life can bring comfort and joy to those in need.
Secondly, you can share. People are hoarders. Books, plastic goods, clothes, toys – you name it. The unused stuff filling your cupboards can well be used by someone in need or sold by charity stores.
‘There’s truth in the saying that it’s better to give than to receive. There’s so much joy in giving with a good heart,’ Suzanne says. But you can also benefit from donating to charity. Cash donations to certain charities that are registered as public benefit organisations (PBOs) with the South African Revenue Service are deductible from tax. The deduction is available for donations of up to 10% of your taxable income (excluding retirement fund lump sums and severance benefits).
You must receive a Section 18A certificate from the PBO for tax purposes, Suzanne says. This is basically a receipt with the following information:
Keep January expenses such as children’s school fees, books and uniforms in mind and plan for these.
If you get paid earlier in December, pay your accounts earlier so you don’t start the New Year with unpaid debit orders.
The biggest expenses in the festive season are usually travel costs, accommodation, food and gifts. Discuss with your co-holidaymakers in advance how you can all contribute and save. For instance, you can go away for a shorter period and rather eat in than out. When buying gifts for friends and family you can decide on one gift per family, instead of gifts for each person.