The Republican leadership on Wednesday September 27, 2017 released a framework for proposed tax reforms for consideration by Congress. While the framework proposes retaining the income tax charitable deduction, it also proposes nearly doubling the standard deduction. Reducing the number of itemizers arguably reduces charitable contributions without the incentive of itemized charitable gifts. Nonetheless, giving is motivated by more than just tax incentives. It remains to be seen how decreasing the number of itemizers might affect charitable giving.
The Trump administration has announced a tax plan for Congressional consideration. The plan features reduction of personal and corporate income tax rates including taxes on pass-through business entities such as S corporations, compression of the number of tax brackets from seven to three and an increase in the standard deduction. Personal income tax rates are reduced to 10%, 25%, and 35% brackets. This proposal eliminates the deduction for state and local income taxes but the income tax charitable deduction remains.
It may seem like it will never end, but the Presidential campaign will soon be over. (Let us please not have a recount like Florida in 2000!) Polls are suggesting a presumptive winner. Nonetheless, the number of undecided voters are at record levels, which introduces unprecedented uncertainty into the election. With that caution in mind, let us compare what we know about the economic priorities of the two candidates with particular emphasis on how their plans would influence charitable giving.
The charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) is far more popular than the charitable remainder annuity trust (CRAT). Annuity trusts make up only about 15% of all charitable remainder trusts in existence. Nonetheless, there are donor situations where the CRAT can be an attractive option. Although we usually think of the gift annuity when a donor desires fixed payments, here is a list of situations where the CRAT beats the gift annuity:
Life income gifts are always deferred gifts. The arrangement is made now, but the charity’s use of the funds is delayed until a future date, normally the death of the donor and any other individual beneficiary of the gift arrangement. Unfortunately, the donor of a life income gift usually does not get to see the gift in action, and the charity is unable to address pressing current needs. Converting a life income gift to a present gift can be both emotionally satisfying to the donor and immensely beneficial to the charity.