On May 28, the Biden Administration released a general explanation of its revenue proposals for Fiscal Year 2022. The so-called “Green Book” provides more detail on these proposals than had been available previously. Of especial interest to gift planners, under the heading “Treat transfers of appreciated property by gift or on death as realization events,” pages 62-64 discuss the Administration’s proposed changes to the taxation of capital gain when assets are transferred during life and at death. I reviewed some of these proposed changes regarding outright gifts and bequests of appreciated assets in a previous blog post, but until now there was no detail on how transfers to split-interest gifts would be treated.
The American Families Plan proposed by the Biden Administration includes a long list of initiatives aimed at expanding government support of children and families. It would cover much of the cost of these initiatives through a series of tax changes that include a major overhaul in the tax treatment of capital gains. It is far from certain that these tax changes will become law, but it is worthwhile to examine how they might affect the behavior of your donors if they did.
We hope that you’ll pardon the title of this article, which is a modification of the infamous James Carville campaign mantra in 1992 – “it’s the economy, stupid!” As was the case with the original phrase, this expression is meant to be tongue-in-cheek and self-directed. The tax legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President last December seems to have rendered the itemizing of personal deductions much less beneficial for large numbers of Americans. There has been considerable discussion among fundraising professionals that the result will be a dramatic decrease in charitable contributions. Whether or not you agree with that assertion, this article is about something else - the realization that the possible benefits of reducing taxes on realized capital gains by contributing appreciated securities for split-interest gift arrangements remain as powerful as ever.
We may be at the break of a new dawn for charitable remainder unitrusts (CRUTs). CRUTs exploded in popularity in the 1990s, driven in part by financial advisors who recommended CRUTs as a way to shelter donors from significant capital gains tax while enhancing cash flow and supporting their favorite charity. Then capital gains tax rates dropped, the stock market went south, and CRUT activity soon slowed. Now, stronger incentives for high income donors to contribute appreciated assets to fund a CRUT are back.