Which side of the fence do you want to be on?

April 15 has come and gone. Some have already spent their tax refunds. Others are a bit more grumpy this week as they had to write a check, or perhaps two checks, and drive by the post office before midnight. Which side of that fence were you on? Which side of the fence did you want to be on? Do you know that supporting scholarships for families attending our area Lutheran schools can help you on both sides of that fence, or even help you jump from one side to the other? And, yes, it can work for personal as well as business fences!The Lutheran Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) of Indiana has received more than $240,000 in private donations from individuals and businesses since November. While providing more than 230 scholarships to area Lutheran students, these gifts have helped donors realize a wonderful—and powerful—way to support scholarships: the 50-percent Indiana School Scholarship Tax Credit.Please note that while Scholarship Granting Organizations, which provide grants to qualifying families via donations from School Scholarship Tax Credits, and vouchers (Indiana Choice Scholarships) share similarities (including even their names), they’re fences of a different sort. Vouchers are state-allocated tax dollars, while SGO scholarships are funded solely by private donations.We were encouraged by one donor we talked to just last week. He commented, "I tried out the Indiana credit with a gift, and it actually helped us go from owing tax to receiving a refund."Another donor calculated how much he paid in state taxes through his monthly payroll taxes in 2012 and simply wrote a check in December for twice the amount, and thereby received a refund of all of the state tax he had paid. In his words, "I will never pay Indiana state taxes again!"As an added bonus, the full donation is eligible for the usual federal charitable deduction.How can you utilize a gift to the Lutheran SGO to prepare for next year? Some ways include the following:1. Plan a year-end gift to reduce or eliminate (and maybe get a refund of) your state tax liability.2. If you pay quarterly estimated taxes for yourself or a business, you may be able to pay less to the state each payment when also making a gift to the Lutheran SGO (some donors are sending us checks monthly as well).Please note: Whatever you do, make sure you check with your tax adviser first.Need more information? We encourage you to discuss SGO donations with your individual and business tax advisers, contact us, or ask your tax adviser to contact us. We love talking with friends over fences.