Praised be Jesus Christ! More than ever people have been asking about end of the year donations and so I asked a friend who thoroughly understands tax laws to help me out. He generously passed along the following information: The standard deduction increased to $12,000 for a single person, $18,000 for the head of a household, and $24,000 for a married couple filing jointly. There is an additional amount for those over 65, $1600 for singles and $1300 for married couples filing jointly. If last year’s itemized deductions didn’t exceed these amounts and they’ve had no major changes this year, they should not itemize. There are only two things they can do: 1) double up their donations in this tax year, and if it gets them over the standard deduction they can itemize. They would then take the standard deduction next year; and 2) if they are over 70 1⁄2 and have an IRA, they may have all or part of their Required Minimum Distribution paid directly to Saint John the Baptist or Christ the King (or other charities). This will reduce their taxable income, which is what itemized deduction does. In 2018 many people who itemized will no longer find it beneficial. There really aren’t any other breaks for the average taxpayer. The AARP Tax-Aide program provides free basic tax preparation ( including Homestead Credit) and electronic filing for low-to- moderate income and elderly taxpayers. They operate in the Drendel Room of the Community Center from February 11th through April 10th. The hours are 12-5 on Mondays and 8-2 on Wednesdays. People can make appointments beginning on January 1st by calling 1-877-947-2211. I hope this information proves to be helpful. In the same vein, I was given an article deploring the materialism that becomes so ubiquitous during this time of the year. I heard about a priest who once lamented that Christmas was that time of year when we all wallow up to the feeding troughs of materialism and strap on our feeding bags. Not to be outdone, how about this quote from Emile Gauvreau: “I was part of that strange race of people aptly described as spending their lives doing things they detest, to make money they don’t want, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.” And to think that Gauvreau was an optimist! Okay, if you’re still reading, allow me to make a non sequitur: I’ve been wanting to share a couple of quotes I’ve come across during the long Lent that we’re experiencing once again in the Church. For me, this has been the most painful time I have endured as a priest. While I’m not ashamed to wear the Roman collar, I keenly feel the distrust that these terrible sins have brought to all who minister as Catholic priests. In that light I’ve been on the lookout for sources of hope that will steel us for the road ahead. The first quote provides a timely reminder that our faith is in Jesus Christ: “The current crisis is deeply painful for all of us who love the Church. It is important to remember.... that we need to place our faith in the Lord and not men. We encourage our family to pray for healing and justice for victims, for repentance and accountability by perpetrators, and for peace and perseverance in the Faith among our brothers and sisters in Christ,” (Michael Warsaw, EWTN Chairman). Well said. And now I will leave you with the best quote yet – this comes from Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the President of the American council of Bishops (USCCB). He spoke these words at the end of the Bishops’ annual conference in November: “We leave this place committed to taking the strongest possible action at the earliest possible moment... but our hope for true and deep reform ultimately lies in more than excellent systems, as essential as these are. It requires holiness: the deeply held convictions of the truths of the Gospel, and the eagerness to be transformed by those truths in all aspects of life.” So let it be written, so let it be done!
May God heal the brokenhearted, and teach us to use the things of this world with our hearts set on Heaven!
Your friend in Christ, Father Martin