The 5.42* Reasons Why Financial Advisors Need the Universal Charitable Deduction

The 5.42* Reasons Why Financial Advisors Need the Universal Charitable Deduction

Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina has proposed the Universal Charitable Deduction which would allow non-itemizers to deduct their gifts in addition to taking the standard deduction.  The bill caps the deduction at one-third of the standard deduction. The charitable community likes the universal concept, but many are wondering if the cap is needed as it can impact gifts from donors who don’t use the itemized deduction. Financial advisors often speak with their clients about charitable giving and, currently, many of those clients itemize their deductions.  However, if as proposed in the “Big Six” in the Senate’s 9-page plan, the standard deduction would double and the itemized deduction for state and local taxes would not.  If tax reform results in changes that affect the standard deduction, here are the reasons why financial advisors should support the Universal Charitable Deduction: The “Big Six” Plan Reduces Itemizers by almost 85% —This is estimated to reduce the percentage of taxpayers using the itemized deductions from 33% to 5%. Simply put, there could be significantly fewer clients itemizing their deductions without the Universal Charitable Deduction. Nothing Beats Appreciated Securities for Charitable Giving — Charitable giving is still one of the most tax efficient ways of working with large capital gains. These benefits are amplified with use of a donor-advised fund to help the client manage their grants to their favorite non-profits. Charitable Giving Builds Client Relationships — Clients can express the values and causes that are most important to their lives through their charitable giving. In many instances, how people donate their wealth will better explain their deeply valued desires than how they...
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — The Universal Charitable Deduction

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — The Universal Charitable Deduction

I’ve found myself engaged in a good deal of conversations about the charitable deduction in 2017, but I still haven’t found what I am looking for (Just in case you care, the version of the U2 classic song that I prefer is this one (with Bruce Springsteen). Today, I spent a second day of 2017 on Capitol Hill.  The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners gathered 800 professionals in Baltimore for its national conference this week.  Fifty of us met with 62 Senator and Representative’s offices.  In fact, we met with staff from 10 of the 26 Members of the Senate Finance Committee. We had done something similar in February where we were discussing Speaker Ryan’s “Blueprint”. but today was very different.  We are on the verge of getting a tax reform Bill.  The “Big Six” in the Senate issued a 9 page plan which outlined their goals for reform and while thjs plan does not offer a lot of detail about how tax reform would actually occur, I know what I was looking for… the Universal Charitable Deduction. On the face of it, the plan seems to simplify the tax process.  It doubles the standard deduction while retaining the charitable deduction for those that itemize. As one representative said today “I thought they spared the charitable deduction.”  While on its face it appears they spared the charitable deduction, in fact, the plan could end costing the charitable community up to $14.7 billion per year. Currently,  roughly 1 of 3 of taxpayers itemized their deductions.  It is estimated that when the standard deduction is  doubled, around 1 of 20...
On Capital Hill: Talking About the Fate of the Charitable Deduction

On Capital Hill: Talking About the Fate of the Charitable Deduction

On May 30, 1985, I skipped high school.  No, it was not senior skip day, nor did I really desire a break from school.  I wanted to travel from Appleton to Oshkosh to see President Reagan speak.  He had just introduced his plan on what would eventually become the Tax Reform Act of 1986 and first went to Wisconsin to sell it to the American people.  Contrary to my parents wishes, I did hear the speech in person and watched the ensuing process that produced the new tax code.  It was something that sparked my interest in learning about taxes and how (and why) they work the way they do. In law school, my intellectual curiosity about taxes turned towards the charitable deduction and was one of the major factors that drove me to pursue a career in charitable gift planning.  I fell in love with the fact that our country effectively allowed citizens to choose where their tax dollars could make a difference.  Over the years, my admiration has grown into awe as I have participated in conversations about the deduction that sparked amazing charitable gifts changing the course, and even saving, countless lives. My awe of and now concern about the charitable deduction led me to go to Capital Hill on February 16th where I joined nearly 200 nonprofit leaders in a whirlwind day of meetings hosted by the Charitable Giving Coalition (@ProtectGiving). We visited 130 House of Representatives and Senate offices, including 23 members of the Senate Finance Committee and 26 members of the House Ways and Means Committee. The goal of these meetings was to...
A Window of Opportunity: Donor Advised Fund before December 31?

A Window of Opportunity: Donor Advised Fund before December 31?

On December 9th, the markets hit their 13th record close since the November elections. Accompanying the records in the market, we have also seen what feels like a record number of opinions of what the change in administrations will mean for taxes.  Some of these opinions have focused on the potential tax changes and their effects on the charities and the charitable deduction.  Fidelity Charitable offered what I consider a measured and reasonable framework for the possibilities. It is safe to conclude that there is at least a good likelihood that the benefits of giving in 2016 may be more tax wise than in future years. If you believe that to be true, these next few days may be ideal for starting a donor advised fund.  Here’s why: Tax Benefits in 2016, Grant in 2017 and Beyond:  Right now, this simple and unique benefit of a donor advised fund could be its biggest.  Donors can take a deduction in 2016 and reserve the right to recommend grants in future years.  If you can use a tax deduction this year, you can get it and “lock-in” its’ benefits. You do not have to decide where you want its support to go at this time, you can choose the charity at a later date. You Don’t Need to be Bill Gates:  If you have been following donor advised funds for several years, you may remember the gift minimums to be $25,000 and above.  These minimums have come down over the years.  In fact, The Advise Us Fund‘s gift minimum is $2,500.  With the lower minimums, it may be feasible to “pre-pay”...