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How to Stretch Your Donation Dollars

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Being charitable and tax savvy don't have to be mutually exclusive.

As the end of the year approaches, and thoughts of goodwill to all emerge from all that holiday cheer, being philanthropic can be a win-win situation, according to Rande Spiegelman, vice president of financial planning for Charles Schwab's (SCHW ) Center for Financial Research. Here are some tips for those looking to give.

Give soon: If you act before the end of the year, you can give up to $13,000 each to as many individuals as you wish this year and pay no gift tax. Spouses can "split" gifts for a total of $26,000 per beneficiary, per year. Gifts beyond that are taxable, but only to the extent they exceed $1 million over a donor's life.

"The lucky recipient of the gift owes no gift or income tax, and doesn't even have to report the gift unless it comes from outside the United States," Spiegelman says.

Pay someone's education or medical bills: You can also make unlimited payments directly to medical providers or educational institutions on behalf of others without incurring a taxable gift or dipping into your $1 million lifetime gift tax exemption.

"It can be anybody's education or medical expenses, says Monte Garpestad, a financial consultant for Schwab. "If you have a grandson that you want to pay educational expenses for you can go ahead and do that. Or if a family has a medical emergency, that sort of thing, you can go ahead and pay directly for that too."

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