Meet our writer
Head of Tax, Betterment
Eric is Betterment's Head of Tax. His experience includes working for Ernst & Young and Fidelity Investments. Eric holds M.S. degrees in Accounting and Taxation from Seton Hall University as well as an MBA in Quantitative Finance from NYU. He also serves as an adjunct taxation professor at Seton Hall University.
Articles by Eric Bronnenkant
How to Use Your Bonus to Get a Tax BreakHow to Use Your Bonus to Get a Tax Break Oct 18, 2022 2:16:00 PM Bonuses are tricky. Here's how you can make your bonus work harder for you by reducing the tax impact. How are you planning to spend your annual bonus? Like with any cash windfall, we all want to use it wisely. But bonuses can be tricky because of taxes. To use a bonus most tax-efficiently, you’ll need to juggle multiple objectives and concerns. If you’re expecting to get more than one bonus per year, it’s important to consider all of the possible ways to invest a bonus to maximize its potential value. In this article, we’ll review how bonuses are typically taxed, what factors you should be aware of, and how to take advantage of different accounts and investing strategies to make your bonus work harder for you. How does a bonus get taxed? Bonuses are considered “supplemental income” by the IRS, which means they could be withheld differently than your regular salary. The IRS suggests a flat withholding of 22% from bonuses, and many employers follow that method. (Remember that withholdings are meant to be an estimate of how much you’ll owe at the end of the year, not the actual tax itself.) But some employers use the aggregate method, in which your whole bonus is added to your regular paycheck, and the combined amount is withheld at the normal income rate, as though that amount is representative of what you make every paycheck, which could be higher (or lower) than 22%. Some people believe that bonuses are taxed at a higher rate than ordinary wages, but that’s not the case. The aggregate method of withholding can result in bumping you into a higher estimated tax bracket, which creates the illusion that you “keep less of it,” but no special tax rates apply just because a payment from your employer is characterized as a bonus. Tax-savvy ways to use your bonus Bear in mind, while we hope you find this information helpful, you should consult a tax professional to understand your individual circumstances. Betterment is not a tax advisor, so while we like to offer helpful information to get you started, this should not be considered tax advice. With that said, here are some simple suggestions for how you might be able to use tax-deferred or even taxable accounts to help preserve and grow your windfall. Boost your 401(k) Before you add your bonus to your 401(k), check with your employer about how bonuses are handled. In some cases, your company may not allow you to make 401(k) contributions using your bonus. In others, your 401(k) plan may be set up to withhold the same percentage from your bonus as from your paycheck. Thus, if you typically contribute 10% from every paycheck to your 401(k), that same amount could be withheld from your bonus (unless you say otherwise). In the case of a $15,000 bonus, $1,500 would go into your 401(k), which may be too little for your aims. Of course, you can’t contribute more than the annual limit, so be sure to check how much you’ve contributed for the year to date. The 401(k) contribution limit in 2023 is $22,500 for those under 50 and $30,000 for those ages 50 and up. You can choose any combination of pre-tax or Roth contributions as part of your total contribution limit. Not sure which type is good for you? Many participants “split the difference” and contribute 50% pre-tax and 50% Roth. To figure out what kind of contribution might work well for you, Betterment offers some thoughts on a Traditional vs. Roth 401(k). Also, don’t assume that a lump-sum deposit is best, especially if your employer matches your 401(k) contributions. A single large deposit might not get the same amount of matching dollars that a comparable amount would if you spread the deposits over time. Betterment’s resident CFP® professional Nick Holeman notes that it depends on your employer’s matching structure. Certain plans offer a “true-up” for matching contributions if you max out early in the year while many plans do not offer that feature. Talk to your employer to find out exactly how they calculate the match. Take advantage of multiple accounts Now here’s the part you may not be aware of: depending on your income and whether you or your spouse is participating in a company retirement plan, you might be able to reduce your taxable income further by contributing to your flexible spending account this year, a health savings account, and a Traditional or Roth IRA. Many people don’t realize that you can participate in a company plan and still fund a traditional or Roth IRA. You could contribute to your 401(k) this year, and contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA as well, or a combination of those. As the IRS notes: You can contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA whether or not you participate in another retirement plan through your employer or business. However, you might not be able to deduct all of your traditional IRA contributions if you or your spouse participates in another retirement plan at work. Roth IRA contributions might be limited if your income exceeds a certain level. Invest in a “happiness fund” If it’s not possible or advantageous to put your money only into tax-deferred accounts, use your windfall to invest by creating “a gift that keeps on giving.” You could spend it all, sure, but by investing your windfall in a well-diversified portfolio, you can create an additional source of cash flow that steadily adds to your quality of life, year after year.
Four Ways We Can Help Limit the Tax Impact Of Your InvestmentsFour Ways We Can Help Limit the Tax Impact Of Your Investments Oct 18, 2022 12:00:00 AM Betterment has a variety of processes in place to help limit the impact of your investments on your tax bill, depending on your situation. Let’s demystify these powerful strategies. We know that the medley of account types can make it challenging for you to decide which account to contribute to or withdraw from at any given time. Let’s dive right in to get a further understanding of: What accounts are available and why you might choose them The benefits of receiving dividends Betterment’s powerful tax-sensitive features How Are Different Investment Accounts Taxed? Taxable Accounts Taxable investment accounts are typically the easiest to set up and have the least amount of restrictions. Although you can easily contribute and withdraw at any time from the account, there are trade-offs. A taxable account is funded with after-tax dollars, and any capital gains you incur by selling assets, as well as any dividends you receive, are taxable on an annual basis. While there is no deferral of income like in a retirement plan, there are special tax benefits only available in taxable accounts such as reduced rates on long-term gains, qualified dividends, and municipal bond income. Key Considerations You would like the option to withdraw at any time with no IRS penalties. You already contributed the maximum amount to all tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Traditional Accounts Traditional accounts include Traditional IRAs, Traditional 401(k)s, Traditional 403(b)s, Traditional 457 Governmental Plans, and Traditional Thrift Savings Plans (TSPs). Traditional investment accounts for retirement are generally funded with pre-tax dollars. The investment income received is deferred until the time of distribution from the plan. Assuming all the contributions are funded with pre-tax dollars, the distributions are fully taxable as ordinary income. For investors under age 59.5, there may be an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty unless an exemption applies. Key Considerations You expect your tax rate to be lower in retirement than it is now. You recognize and accept the possibility of an early withdrawal penalty. Roth Accounts This includes Roth IRAs, Roth 401(k)s, Roth 403(b)s, Roth 457 Governmental Plans, and Roth Thrift Saving Plans (TSPs). Roth type investment accounts for retirement are always funded with after-tax dollars. Qualified distributions are tax-free. For investors under age 59.5, there may be ordinary income taxes on earnings and an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty on the earnings unless an exemption applies. Key Considerations You expect your tax rate to be higher in retirement than it is right now. You expect your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) to be below $140k (or $208k filing jointly). You desire the option to withdraw contributions without being taxed. You recognize the possibility of a penalty on earnings withdrawn early. Beyond account type decisions, we also use your dividends to keep your tax impact as small as possible. Four Ways Betterment Helps You Limit Your Tax Impact We use any additional cash to rebalance your portfolio When your account receives any cash—whether through a dividend or deposit—we automatically identify how to use the money to help you get back to your target weighting for each asset class. Dividends are your portion of a company’s earnings. Not all companies pay dividends, but as a Betterment investor, you almost always receive some because your money is invested across thousands of companies in the world. Your dividends are an essential ingredient in our tax-efficient rebalancing process. When you receive a dividend into your Betterment account, you are not only making money as an investor—your portfolio is also getting a quick micro-rebalance that aims to help keep your tax bill down at the end of the year. And, when market movements cause your portfolio’s actual allocation to drift away from your target allocation, we automatically use any incoming dividends or deposits to buy more shares of the lagging part of your portfolio. This helps to get the portfolio back to its target asset allocation without having to sell off shares. This is a sophisticated financial planning technique that traditionally has only been available to larger accounts, but our automation makes it possible to do it with any size account. Performance of S&P 500 With Dividends Reinvested Source: Bloomberg. Performance is provided for illustrative purposes to represent broad market returns for [asset classes] that may not be used in all Betterment portfolios. The [asset class] performance is not attributable to any actual Betterment portfolio nor does it reflect any specific Betterment performance. As such, it is not net of any management fees. The performance of specific funds used for each asset class in the Betterment portfolio will differ from the performance of the broad market index returns reflected here. Past performance is not indicative of future results. You cannot invest directly in the index. Content is meant for educational purposes and not intended to be taken as advice or a recommendation for any specific investment product or strategy. We “harvest” investment losses Tax loss harvesting can lower your tax bill by “harvesting” investment losses for tax reporting purposes while keeping you fully invested. When selling an investment that has increased in value, you will owe taxes on the gains, known as capital gains tax. Fortunately, the tax code considers your gains and losses across all your investments together when assessing capital gains tax, which means that any losses (even in other investments) will reduce your gains and your tax bill. In fact, if losses outpace gains in a tax year, you can eliminate your capital gains bill entirely. Any losses leftover can be used to reduce your taxable income by up to $3,000. Finally, any losses not used in the current tax year can be carried over indefinitely to reduce capital gains and taxable income in subsequent years. So how do you do it? When an investment drops below its initial value—something that is very likely to happen to even the best investment at some point during your investment horizon—you sell that investment to realize a loss for tax purposes and buy a related investment to maintain your market exposure. Ideally, you would buy back the same investment you just sold. After all, you still think it’s a good investment. However, IRS rules prevent you from recognizing the tax loss if you buy back the same investment within 30 days of the sale. So, in order to keep your overall investment exposure, you buy a related but different investment. Think of selling Coke stock and then buying Pepsi stock. Overall, tax loss harvesting can help lower your tax bill by recognizing losses while keeping your overall market exposure. At Betterment, all you have to do is turn on Tax Loss Harvesting+ in your account. We use asset location to your advantage Asset location is a strategy where you put your most tax-inefficient investments (usually bonds) into a tax-efficient account (IRA or 401k) while maintaining your overall portfolio mix. For example, an investor may be saving for retirement in both an IRA and taxable account and has an overall portfolio mix of 60% stocks and 40% bonds. Instead of holding a 60/40 mix in both accounts, an investor using an asset location strategy would put tax-inefficient bonds in the IRA and put more tax-efficient stocks in the taxable account. In doing so, interest income from bonds—which is normally treated as ordinary income and subject to a higher tax rate—is shielded from taxes in the IRA. Meanwhile, qualified dividends from stocks in the taxable account are taxed at a lower rate, capital gains tax rates instead of ordinary income tax rates. The entire portfolio still maintains the 60/40 mix, but the underlying accounts have moved assets between each other to lower the portfolio’s tax burden. We use ETFs instead of mutual funds Have you ever paid capital gain taxes on a mutual fund that was down over the year? This frustrating situation happens when the fund sells investments inside the fund for a gain, even if the overall fund lost value. IRS rules mandate that the tax on these gains is passed through to the end investor, you. While the same rule applies to exchange traded funds (ETFs), the ETF fund structure makes such tax bills much less likely. In most cases, you can find ETFs with investment strategies that are similar or identical to a mutual fund, often with lower fees.
Investing in Your 40s: 4 Financial Goals You Should Prioritize at Mid-LifeInvesting in Your 40s: 4 Financial Goals You Should Prioritize at Mid-Life Oct 14, 2022 12:00:00 AM In your 40s, your priorities and investing goals become clearer than ever; it’s your mid-life opportunity to get your goals on track. It’s easy to put off planning for the future when the present is so demanding. Unlike in your 20s and 30s when your retirement seemed like a distant event, your 40s are when your financial responsibilities become palpable—now and for retirement. You may be earning more income than ever, so you can benefit far more from planning your taxes carefully. Perhaps you have increased expenses as a result of homeownership. If you have kids, now may also be the time that you’re thinking about or preparing to pay for college tuition. When all of these elements of your financial life converge, they require some thoughtful planning and strategic investing. Consider the following roadmap to planning your investments wisely during these rewarding years of your life. Here are four ways to think about goals you might prepare for. Preparing for Your Next Phase: Four Goals for Your 40s You may have already made a plan for the future. If so, now is a good time to review it and adjust course if necessary. If you haven’t yet made a plan, it’s not too late to get started. Set aside some time to think about your situation and long-term goals. If you’re married or in a relationship, you likely may need to include your spouse or partner in identifying your goals. Consider the facts: How much are you making? How much do you spend? Will your spending needs be changing in the near future? (Perhaps you're paying for day care right now but can plan to redirect that amount towards savings in a few years instead.) How much are you setting aside for savings, investments, and retirement? What will you need in the next five, 10, or 20 years? Work these factors into your short- and long-term financial goals. Pay off high-interest debt The average credit card interest rate is more than 20%, so paying off any high-interest credit card debt can boost your financial security more than almost any other financial move you make related to savings or investing. Student loans may also be a high-cost form of debt, especially if you borrowed money when rates were higher. If you have a high-interest-rate student loan (say more than 5%), or if you have multiple loans that you’d like to consolidate, you may want to consider refinancing your student debt. These days, lenders offer many options to refinance higher-rate student loans. There’s one form of debt that you don’t necessarily need to repay early, however: your mortgage. This is because mortgage rates are lower than most credit cards and may offer you a tax break. If you itemize deductions, you may be able to subtract mortgage interest from your taxable income. Many people file using the standard deduction, however, so check with your tax professional about what deductions may apply to your situation come tax time. Check that you’re saving enough for retirement If you’ve had several jobs—which means you might have several retirement or 401(k) plans—now is a good time to organize and check how all of your investments have performed. Betterment can help you accomplish this by allowing you to connect and review your outside accounts. Connecting external accounts allows you to see your wealth in one place and align different accounts to your financial goals. Connecting your accounts in Betterment can also help you see higher investment management fees you might be paying, grab opportunities to invest idle cash, and determine how your portfolios are allocated when we are able to pull that data from other institutions. There could also be several potential benefits of consolidating your various retirement accounts into low-fee IRA accounts at Betterment. Because it’s much easier to get on track in your 40s than in your 50s since you have more time to invest, you should also check in on the advice personalized for you in a Betterment retirement goal. Creating a Retirement goal at Betterment allows you to build a customized retirement plan to help you understand how much you’ll need to save for retirement based on when and where you plan on retiring. The plan also considers current and future income—including Social Security income—as well as your 401(k) accounts and other savings. Your plan updates regularly, and when you connect all of your outside accounts, it provides even more personalized retirement guidance. Optimize your taxes In your 40s, you’re likely to be earning more than earlier in your career–which may put you in a higher tax bracket. Reviewing your tax situation can help make sure you are keeping as much of your hard-earned income as you can. Determine if you should be investing in a Roth (after-tax contribution) or traditional (pre-tax contribution) employer plan option, or an IRA. The optimal choice usually depends on your current income versus your expected income in retirement. If your income is higher now than you expect it to be in retirement, it’s generally better to use a traditional 401(k) and take the tax deduction. If your income is similar or less than what you expect in retirement, you should consider choosing a Roth if available. Those without employer plans can generally take traditional IRA deductions no matter what their taxable income is (as long as your spouse doesn’t have one, either). You’ll also want to make sure you take advantage of all the tax credits and deductions that may be available to you. You may also want to check to see whether your company offers tax-free transportation benefits—including subway or bus passes or commuter parking. The value of these benefits isn’t included in your taxable income, so you can save money. You can also save money on a pre-tax basis by contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Health Saving Accounts (HSA) Health savings accounts (HSAs) are like personal savings accounts, but the money in them is used to pay for health care expenses. Only you—not your employer or insurance company—own and control the money in your HSA. The money you deposit into the account is not taxed. To be eligible to open an HSA, you must have a high-deductible insurance plan. Your 401(k) may be tied to your employer, however your HSA is not. As long as your health plan meets the deductible requirement and permits you to open an HSA, and you’re not receiving Medicare benefits or claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return, you can open one with various HSA “administrators” or “custodians” such as banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and other financial institutions. You can withdraw the funds tax-free at any time for qualified medical expenses. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a special account that can be used to save for certain out-of-pocket health care costs. You don’t pay taxes on this money—this is a tax-favored program that some employers offer to their employees. If you have an FSA, remember that in most cases your spending allowance does not carry over from year-to-year. It’s important to find out whether your employer offers a grace period into the next year (typically through mid-March) to spend down your account. Before you waste your tax-free savings on eyeglasses, check what you can buy with FSA money—with and without a prescription. Any unused funds will be forfeited, so it’s a good idea to use up what you can. If you find yourself with more than you can spend, then you might want to adjust how much you’re allocating to your FSA. If you have children, start saving for college—just don’t shortchange your retirement to do it If you have children, you may already be paying for their college tuition, or at least preparing to pay for it. It’s advisable to focus on your own financial security while also doing what you can to save for your kids’ college costs. So, first things first, make sure you’re saving enough for your own retirement. Then if you have money left over, think about tax-deferred college savings plans, such as 529 plans. A 529—named for the section of the tax code that allows for them—can be a great way to save for college because earnings are tax-free if used for qualified education expenses. Some states even allow you to deduct contributions from your state income tax, if you use your state’s plan. (While each state has its own plan, you can use any state’s plan, no matter where your child will go to college.) An alternative is to put money away in your own taxable savings accounts. Some investors prefer this method since it gives them more control over the money if things change, and may be more beneficial for financial aid. Your 40s are all about taking stock of how far you’ve come, re-adjusting your priorities, and getting ready for the next phase of life. By working on your financial goals now, you can gain peace of mind that allows you to concentrate on important things like family, friends, work, and the way you want to spend this rewarding decade of your life.
How To Plan Your Taxes When InvestingHow To Plan Your Taxes When Investing Sep 14, 2022 10:12:52 AM Tax planning should happen year round. Here are some smart moves to consider that can help you save money now—and for years to come. Editor’s note: We’re about to dish on taxes and investing in length, but please keep in mind Betterment isn’t a tax advisor, nor should any information here be considered tax advice. Please consult a tax professional for advice on your specific situation. In 1 minute No one wants to pay more taxes than they have to. But as an investor, it’s not always clear how your choices change what you may ultimately owe to the IRS. Consider these strategies that can help reduce your taxes, giving you more to spend or invest as you see fit. Max out retirement accounts: The more you invest in your IRA and/or 401(k), the more tax benefits you receive. So contribute as much as you’re able to. Consider tax loss harvesting: When your investments lose value, you have the opportunity to reduce your tax bill. Selling depreciated assets lets you deduct the loss to offset other investment gains or decrease your taxable income. You can do this for up to $3,000 worth of losses every year, and additional losses can count toward future years. Rebalance your portfolio with cash flows: To avoid realizing gains before you may need to, try to rebalance your portfolio without selling any existing investments. Instead, use cash flows, including new deposits and dividends, to adjust your portfolio’s allocation. Consider a Roth conversion: You can convert all or some of traditional IRA into a Roth IRA at any income level and at any time. You’ll pay taxes upfront, but when you retire, your withdrawals are tax free. It’s worth noting that doing so is a permanent change, and it isn’t right for everyone. We recommend consulting a qualified tax advisor before making the decision. Invest your tax refund: Tax refunds can feel like pleasant surprises, but in reality they represent a missed opportunity. In practice, they mean you’ve been overpaying Uncle Sam throughout the year, and only now are you getting your money back. If you can, make up for this lost time by investing your refund right away. Donate to charity: Giving to causes you care about provides tax benefits. Donate in the form of appreciated investments instead of cash, and your tax-deductible donation can also help you avoid paying taxes on capital gains. In 5 minutes Taxes are complicated. It’s no wonder so many people dread tax season. But if you only think about them at the start of the year or when you look at your paycheck, you could be missing out. As an investor, you can save a lot more in taxes by being strategic with your investments throughout the year. In this guide, we’ll: Explain how you can save on taxes with strategic investing Examine specific tips for tax optimization Consider streamlining the process via automation Max out retirement accounts every year Retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s come with tax benefits. The more you contribute to them, the more of those benefits you enjoy. Depending on your financial situation, it may be worth maxing them out every year. The tax advantages of 401(k)s and IRAs come in two flavors: Roth and traditional. Contributions to Roth accounts are made with post-tax dollars, meaning Uncle Sam has already taken a cut. Contributions to traditional accounts, on the other hand, are usually made with pre-tax dollars. These two options effectively determine whether you pay taxes on this money now or later. So, which is better, Roth or Traditional? The answer depends on how much money you expect to live on during retirement. If you think you’ll be in a higher tax bracket when you retire (because you’ll be withdrawing more than you currently make each month), then paying taxes now with a Roth account can keep more in your pocket. But if you expect to be in the same or lower tax bracket when you retire, then pushing your tax bill down the road via a Traditional retirement account may be the better route. Use tax loss harvesting throughout the year Some of your assets will decrease in value. That’s part of investing. But tax loss harvesting is designed to allow you to use losses in your taxable (i.e. brokerage) investing accounts to your advantage. You gain a tax deduction by selling assets at a loss. That deduction can offset other investment gains or decrease your taxable income by up to $3,000 every year. And any losses you don’t use rollover to future years. Traditionally, you’d harvest these losses at the end of the year as you finalize your deductions. But then you could miss out on other losses throughout the year. Continuously monitoring your portfolio lets you harvest losses as they happen. This could be complicated to do on your own, but automated tools make it easy. At Betterment, we offer Tax Loss Harvesting+ at no extra cost. Once you determine if Tax Loss Harvesting+ is right for you (Betterment will ask you a few questions to help you determine this), all you have to do is enable it, and this feature looks for opportunities regularly, seeking to help increase your after-tax returns.* Keep in mind, however, that everyone’s tax situation is different—and Tax Loss Harvesting+ may not be suitable for yours. In general, we don’t recommend it if: Your future tax bracket will be higher than your current tax bracket. You can currently realize capital gains at a 0% tax rate. You’re planning to withdraw a large portion of your taxable assets in the next 12 months. You risk causing wash sales due to having substantially identical investments elsewhere. Rebalance your portfolio with cash flows As the market ebbs and flows, your portfolio can drift from its target allocation. One way to rebalance your portfolio is by selling assets, but that can cost you in taxes. A more efficient method for rebalancing is to use cash flows like new deposits and dividends you’ve earned. This can help keep your allocation on target while keeping taxes to a minimum. Betterment can automate this process, automatically monitoring your portfolio for rebalancing opportunities, and efficiently rebalancing your portfolio throughout the year once your account has reached the balance threshold. Consider getting out of high-cost investments Sometimes switching to a lower-cost investment firm means having to sell investments, which can trigger taxes. But over time, high-fee investments could cost you more than you’d pay in taxes to move to a lower cost money manager. For example, if selling a fund will cost you $1,000 in taxes, but you will save $500 per year in fees, you can break even in just two years. If you plan to be invested for longer than that, switching can be a savvy investment move. Consider a Roth conversion The IRS limits who can contribute to a Roth IRA based on income. But there’s no income limit for converting your traditional IRA into a Roth IRA. It’s not for everyone, and it does come with some potential pitfalls, but you have good reasons to consider it. A Roth conversion could: Lower the taxable portion of the conversion due to after-tax contributions made previously Lower your tax rates Put you in a lower tax bracket than normal due to retirement or low-income year Provide tax-free income in retirement or for a beneficiary Provide an opportunity to use an AMT (alternative minimum tax) credit carryover Provide an opportunity to use an NOL (net operating loss) carryover If you decide to convert your IRA, don’t wait until December—you’d miss out on 11 months of potential tax-free growth. Generally, the earlier you do your conversion the better. That said, Roth conversions are permanent, so be certain about your decision before making the change. It’s worth speaking with a qualified tax advisor to determine whether a Roth conversion is right for you. Invest your tax refund It might feel nice to receive a tax refund, but it usually means you’ve been overpaying your taxes throughout the year. That’s money you could have been investing! If you get a refund, consider investing it to make up for lost time. Depending on the size of your refund, you may want to resubmit your Form W-4 to your employer to adjust the amount of taxes withheld from each future paycheck. The IRS offers a Tax Withholding Estimator to help you get your refund closer to $0. Then you could increase your 401(k) contribution by that same amount. You won’t notice a difference in your paycheck, but it can really add up in your retirement account. Donate to charity It’s often said that it’s better to give than to receive. This is doubly true when charitable giving provides tax benefits in addition to the feeling of doing good. You can optimize your taxes while supporting your community or giving to causes you care about. To donate efficiently, consider giving away appreciated investments instead of cash. Then you avoid paying taxes on capital gains, and the gift is still tax deductible. You’ll have to itemize your deductions above the standard deduction, so you may want to consider “bunching” two to five years’ worth of charitable contributions. Betterment’s Charitable Giving can help streamline the donation process by automatically identifying the most appreciated long-term investments and partnering directly with highly-rated charities across a range of causes.