It takes about 84 miles heading northeast on I-4 from our Skoda Minotti downtown Tampa office to arrive at a magical place where dreams come true. A place formerly known as “The Florida Project.” A place run by a mouse and his friends.
Down the street from that place lies a wizarding world of wonder and adventure. A place where wizards and superheroes and partygoers can frolic amongst one another. And on the opposite side of the street from these places lies an underwater world of fascination, conservation and excitement. Visitors will also find an atmosphere rich in the arts, music, food and beverages and a growing sports market.
This amazing place hosts Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Sea World, Aquatica, Discovery Island, and many bars, restaurants, nightclubs, museums and festivals. This is Orlando, Florida – the City Beautiful – or, as I refer to it: my hometown.
In the early hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016, a devastating tragedy unfolded at Pulse nightclub in this City Beautiful. In the wake of these tragedies, you may ask yourself what and how you can help.
If you make a significant charitable contribution, you may qualify to deduct those contributions on your personal tax return. As tax professionals, we know charitable contributions are limited to 50 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income and become deductible if the total exceeds the standard deduction for the applicable tax year. Taxpayers must also verify that reputable qualified organizations receive their cash and/or non-cash charitable contributions. The IRS provides guidelines in Publication 526 for common types of organizations such as nonprofit churches, educational organizations, hospitals, medical research organizations, war veterans’ organizations, etc.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announced the formation of the OneOrlando Fund to benefit the victims and their families as they recover from the unthinkable horror that turned their worlds upside down and ended 49 innocent lives. (For more information, or to make donations, please visit www.oneorlando.org).
On the group’s website, you will find a detailed plan of how the contributions will be used, who participates on the board, and the federal tax identification number for the organization, which is reported on the tax return over a certain limit. The Walt Disney Company donated a heartwarming total of $1 million towards OneOrlando Fund. Equality Florida, a local Florida organization supporting the LGBT community in a multitude of ways, has partnered with OneOrlando to assist with the total distribution of collected funds to the victims and their families. They also began their own GoFundMe account in the fresh hours after news of the tragedy broke to the public. They received an overwhelming contribution of $1.3 million within the first 21 hours since the account’s inception, showing just how moved the community felt following this unthinkable tragedy.
Aside from researching the organization’s website, donors may also utilize websites, such as charitynavigator.org before donating their time, money and/or items. One of the most useful features includes top 10 lists, which showcase the 10 highest paid CEOs, the 10 most giving organizations and the 10 most popular charities, to name a few. This resource also provides a search feature to look up organizations and provides links to make a donation. It also shares contact information, lists the board leadership and shows applicable financial information such as IRS forms 990 (if required to file).
In essence, as it seems we wake up every day with a new tragedy to mourn, be sure to do the research to make sure that the organization that puts their hand out to receive heartfelt donations will really help make a difference and point us toward hearing happy news again.