We occasionally receive calls from clients regarding questions about the best way to perform internal accounting for charitable gift annuities. As a split-interest charitable gift arrangement, the CGA represents both a gift to the charity and a financial obligation to the annuitant(s). On this much, there is general consensus, but on the manner in which the charity should compute the estimated remaining liability for each CGA over time, there are two main approaches. Given that the total funding minus the charitable deduction equals the total estimated liability at the outset of the gift arrangement, some organizations choose to record the incremental changes in liability as a sort of mortgage payment plan, or straight-line depreciation schedule. This method essentially amortizes the total estimated liability at the beginning and breaks that total down into regular and consistent annual amounts (sometimes even quarterly amounts). There is a fundamental problem with this approach; A gift annuity is NOT a mortgage.
[NOTE: The following is based on a true story.] Some of the numbers just didn’t make sense. It was that most wonderful time of the year for a non-profit organization – the closing of the June 30 fiscal year! Almost like Christmas in July, everyone was busy reviewing tally sheets and running various reports in an effort to provide comprehensive information about the gifts received over the previous 12 months. With outright gifts, of course, the process was fairly straightforward – whatever was received, for the most part, was counted with a few exceptions. With life income gifts, however, the process was a little more complicated, since the organization needs to report the total funding amount, the estimated liability, and the estimate of the charitable remainder.
Everyone knows by now that the IRS has extended the filing deadlines for 2020 federal income tax returns for individual taxpayers; the normal deadline of April 15 has been extended to May 17, giving all of us an extra month. But less widely known is that the federal tax filing deadline for trust tax returns has not been extended.
Ready or not, it’s year-end again, which leads us right into tax season – that “most wonderful time of the year!” Here is our quick review of the tax reporting process for life income gifts.
These are truly historic times. The United States – along with the rest of the world – is in the grips of a pandemic that most of us could never imagine, even in our worst nightmares. At the time of this writing, the deaths within our borders alone are running into tens of thousands, and the global number of cases is now being counted in millions. Most of the country is under some sort of stay-at-home mandate, our economy has basically sputtered to a crawl, and our stock markets appear to be in a continual free-fall. These are desperate times, when everyday Americans are fearful for their lives, and for the safety and well-being of their loved ones. Beyond those immediate concerns, folks are worried about their jobs and the sudden declines in the values of their retirement accounts. How can we presume that donors will think about planned gifts – or charitable gifts of any kind – at a time like this?