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News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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'Tis the season for charitable giving – and tax savings

For some, the end-of-year holidays engender thoughts of helping those less fortunate. For others, it’s a time to develop strategies to save on taxes.

Charitable giving allows you to achieve both goals. However, what if you would like to help but don’t yet know which charities you prefer? One of the most flexible ways to address this is to use a donor-advised fund (DAF).

A DAF is an account similar to a 401(k), sponsored and administered by a public charity for the purpose of managing charitable donations to other organizations on your behalf. It offers you the opportunity to donate money and get an immediate tax deduction before deciding which charities you want to fund. Rather than making donations directly to your favorite charities, you can donate the money to a DAF and in the future direct grants to specific charities through the DAF. For wealthy individuals and families, a DAF provides simpler accounting, higher tax-deduction limits and less strict payout requirements compared to creating your own private foundation.

However, there may be differences across DAFs in the offerings, so selecting the most appropriate one can be challenging. Following are questions you should ask the sponsoring organizations before selecting the right DAF for you.

• What types of grants will the DAF sponsoring organization approve? Generally DAFs are able to support most 501(c)(3) organizations, but there are sometimes restrictions, such as religious or international requirements. If you cannot support your favorite charities through the fund, it’s probably not for you.

• Will the DAF accept assets other than cash for funding? Many DAFs accept publicly traded stock, privately held company stock, real estate, life insurance and even art and collectibles.

• What are the investment options? Is there a minimum account size? Some DAF sponsors allow donors or their financial advisers to manage the funds within the DAF themselves. This may be of value to you if you plan on making distributions over a long period of time.

• What is the process for making grants from the fund? Is there a minimum amount? Can it be done by phone or online? Is there an approval process? What are the costs?

• What resources are provided to help clients identify causes or charities and plan their giving? If you know exactly which charities you want to support, you won’t need such help. But some sponsoring organizations additionally help educate their DAF account holders on local needs as well as how to be more effective donors. Working with such organizations could help develop a greater sense of pride and satisfaction through your charitable giving.

• Can the assets in a DAF account be transferred to another DAF sponsor? You may want to change in the future for any number of reasons or may simply prefer not being locked in.

• What happens when the DAF account creator is no longer alive? Can successor trustees be named? Can the DAF holder designate charitable beneficiaries to receive the final amount in the fund?

When it comes to selecting a DAF, there is no shortage of choices. Brokerage houses Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard run the largest national DAFs. If you are more inclined to support your local community, there is the Los Altos Community Foundation right in our own backyard. It supports local nonprofits as well as national charities.

Regardless of your preference, DAFs remain an excellent vehicle through which you can accomplish good in the community while at the same time saving on your taxes.

Los Altos resident Artie Green is a Certified Financial Planner and principal at Cognizant Wealth Advisors. For more information, call 209-4062 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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