11-24-2016 Columns

Investing in Your future


Everyone benefits when you make charitable gifts

 Now that we are in the heart of the holiday season, you may be thinking about ways you can put your money where your heart is. Specifically, you might be pondering which groups you should support with charitable gifts. And as long as you choose groups that meet the right criteria, your generosity can also be rewarding to you, in the form of tax benefits.

To begin with, you will want to make sure you are giving to a reputable charity. That means you will need to ask some questions. How does a group measure its effectiveness? Is it devoting as much of its contributions as possible to the actual work of the organization, or is it spending too much money on administrative costs? Generally, a worthwhile charity should spend at least 75% of its income on programs. You may be able to find this type of information on a charitable group’s annual report and its website. You can also go to the website of one of the agencies that evaluates charitable groups. On these sites, you can get a lot of information dealing with a charity’s effectiveness, income, spending and other topics.

After you have identified a charity, or charities, you can decide how much you want to give and how you want to give it. If the charity has 501(c)(3) status (named after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that governs such groups), your gift can offer you a tax deduction. So, for example, if you are in the 25% tax bracket, and you give $1,000 to a qualified charity, you can subtract the $1,000 from your adjusted gross income, which will result in tax savings of $250. Upon making your gift, make sure you get a receipt that lists the name of the organization and the date and amount of your contribution. (Your maximum deduction will be limited to a percentage of your adjusted gross income.)

You can do more than simply write a check, however. If you have stocks that have grown significantly in value, you may want to donate them to a charitable group. You will be allowed a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the gift on the date of the transfer, even if your original cost was only a fraction of today’s value. Furthermore, you will avoid the capital gains taxes you would have to pay if you sold the stock, provided you have held the stock for at least a year.

If you do contribute appreciated stocks, you will want to be cognizant of the effect of your donation on your portfolio. If you were to give a sizable amount of growth-oriented stocks, would it affect your overall growth potential? Conversely, if you are primarily giving away relatively conservative, income-producing stocks, would it end up moving your portfolio in a riskier direction? When donating stocks, if at all possible try to do so in a way that does not harm your portfolio’s balance.

In any case, whether you give cash or appreciated assets, you will need to make your gift by Dec. 31 if you are going to deduct it on your 2016 taxes. So be as generous as you can afford, think about the effect of your gift on your own financial situation – and be prepared to act soon.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Record of success


 With the election finally over, the U.S. House of Representatives went right back to work last week. We came together to advance eight bipartisan pieces of legislation that had moved through the committee I chair, Energy and Commerce. It is part of our long-time #RecordOfSuccess in moving important pieces of legislation closer to the president’s desk for signature. I want tell you about two of these bills.

The House advanced H.R. 4665, the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, by a unanimous vote. The outdoor recreation industry has become a significant driver of job and economic growth here in Southwest Michigan and across the country. This is why I was proud to support passage of this critical piece of legislation. It is a common-sense, bipartisan bill that will inform lawmakers on outdoor recreation policy and also help optimize business investments in the outdoor recreation industry. It is important we work together to strengthen our natural resources like the Great Lakes and also improve our outdoor recreation system.

Also the House advanced H.R. 2566, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act of 2015, by a unanimous vote. This legislation, which I helped champion, will address persistent problems folks have here in Southwest Michigan and across the country with rural call completion issues. These call completion issues have a negative impact on local small businesses and can even pose a threat to public safety. It is time we set higher standards for the integrity of our networks. I was proud to support this bipartisan legislation and I am hopeful that the Senate will take it up soon.

To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov.


 Food is as much a part of holiday gatherings as football, candles and carols. This holiday season, keep food safety in mind every step of the way, including proper planning, safe shopping, working in the kitchen and wrapping up leftovers.

Plan right: Make sure your kitchen is equipped with what you need for safe food handling, including two cutting boards (one for raw meats and seafood and the other for ready-to-eat foods), a food thermometer, shallow containers for storage, paper towels and soap. Store foods in the refrigerator at 40°F or below, or in the freezer at 0°F or below; check the temperature of both the refrigerator and freezer with a refrigerator thermometer.

Shop smart: It is important to keep food safety in mind as you shop. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods like fruit, vegetables and bread. Do not purchase bruised or damaged produce, or canned goods that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusted, as these may become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Bring foods directly home from the grocery store and refrigerate perishable foods, such as raw meat or poultry, within two hours.

Stay safe: Make sure everyone washes their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Throw away all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours. Refrigerate or freeze other leftovers in shallow, air-tight containers and label with an expiration date. Reheat leftovers to 165°F, and do not eat expired foods as this could lead to food poisoning.

For more information, contact the Berrien County Health Department at (269) 926-7121, at www.bchdmi.org or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/



 As we enter another busy holiday season, I am happy to report that my colleagues and I in the Michigan House have had another productive year working for you. We have for the sixth year in a row passed a balanced budget ahead of schedule and made significant progress on many other important issues.

At the beginning of this legislative session, my colleagues and I created an action plan so that you could see our goals and hold us accountable for our progress on accomplishing them. As we near the end of this legislative session 99% of our action items are in progress. We have introduced legislation for 95% of our goals and 76% of them have been voted on by the House. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, and look forward to finishing the year strong. What I am most proud of, however, is the community that I represent.

It is truly a privilege to work for a community that works so hard for each other. We are blessed with many wonderful people who do so much to improve the lives of others. During this time of year I feel it is especially important to take time to give thanks to all of the people who make our Southwest Michigan community such a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. It is no accident that we have such strong communities and we have many people to thank for that.

Thank you to our first responders, who risk their lives daily to keep us safe. Thank you to the men and women of our armed forces who protect our country and keep us free. Thank you to the many service groups and volunteers who do what they can to improve our communities and help those in need. Finally, thank you to all of you for sharing your ideas with me and giving me the honor of being your State Representative.

As always, please feel free to contact my office toll-free at (800) 577- 6212 or email me at AricNesbitt@house.mi.gov if I can ever be of assistance to you or your family.


 We have much to be thankful for as Americans. We are blessed to live in the greatest nation on Earth, where everyone has the chance — through hard work and determination — to achieve the American Dream.

Thanksgiving is a time to gather together and give thanks for our many blessings.

Our first Thanksgiving in 1621 was born out of an expression of gratefulness for a bountiful harvest.

While much has changed in the centuries since the first Thanksgiving, coming home to a simpler life remains at the heart of the holiday. Even in a modern world where we are constantly connected and seemingly always busy, Thanksgiving is still rooted in the enduring foundations of family, friends and freedom.

As Southwest Michigan families gather around the table, I encourage everyone to recognize the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

It is a moment to relax and connect with loved ones, give thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed on us and celebrate the most cherished thing we have: one another.

In the bustle of the holiday, I hope we will all take time to warmly express our gratitude to our family and friends for their love and friendship throughout the year and to remember that we are all truly blessed to live in the land of the free.

I also encourage residents to give thanks for the brave men and women who protect our liberty, especially those who are unable to be with their families as they serve our country.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone… May God bless you and fill your hearts and homes with love this holiday season.

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.