After lingering in limbo in the U.S. Senate for months, the “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” Act, aka the SECURE Act, was among several bills attached recently to a “must-pass” appropriations bill that was signed into law on December 20, 2019. The SECURE Act includes many changes to the rules governing retirement plans, including several provisions of particular interest to gift planners. All the rules described below became effective on January 1, 2020.
Why do donors care about the charitable deduction? The charitable deduction is valuable to many donors because it enables them to save taxes. The amount of taxes the donor can save with a given charitable deduction depends on several factors. Let’s consider a simple case first.
On November 22, 2019, the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) announced new suggested maximum gift annuity rates to replace the rates that became effective on July 1, 2018. The new rates will apply to gift annuities established on or after January 1, 2020, although a charity may follow the new rates immediately if it wishes.
For almost 30 years, the IRS has announced each month the interest rate for computing the deduction for gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, and most other split interest gifts. We call this rate the IRS discount rate. The donor has the option to use the rate for the month of gift or either of the two previous months.
The IRS has announced proposed regulations to address a technical, but potentially very important issue for taxpayers who make large taxable gifts during 2018-2025. The 2017 Tax Act nearly doubled the unified gift and estate tax exemption from $5,600,000 to $11,180,000. However, absent extending legislation, the doubling will expire at the end of 2025 and the exemption will go back to being computed the way it was prior to the 2017 Tax Act. Any of the increased exemption not used before it expires will be lost. This brings us to the technical part of the discussion.