The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, which the President signed into law on March 27th, provides more than $2 trillion in relief touching nearly every corner of the U.S. economy: large and small businesses, health care providers, non-profits, individual citizens, and on and on. Included in its 880 pages are several provisions of particular interest to gift planners and to fundraisers generally. Let’s go through them. I’ll start with the most dramatic change.
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.
No doubt about it, Planned Giving is a fascinating area to work in. it’s right at the confluence of fundraising and estate planning, incorporating knowledge about investments and sensitivity to the life cycle stages that are part of the human experience. We’re helping organizations to raise money for causes we believe in, and we’re helping individuals to make the most efficient allocations of their income and wealth. One of the central and more difficult aspects of planned giving, however, is the dependence upon a variety of tax laws that affect every type of planned gift. Today’s gift planning professionals need to know more about the American tax system than ever before.
We’re at that point in the year when the kids are finally out of school, the fiscal year has ended for many, and we’re all more than halfway through the calendar year. The weather is finally nice, we’re taking our summer vacations, and in general, we’re starting to enjoy a slightly less hectic pace of living. But truth be told, summers aren’t as quiet as they used to be. Families don’t just pack up and head “down the shore” or “down the Cape” for the entire months of July and August. Colleges and even many primary and secondary schools now begin the “fall” sessions in the middle of August – or even earlier. And no one ever really disconnects and gets away from it all anymore, because we have our cell phones and our tablets and all of our 21st century accoutrements with us at all times.
Following the December 2017 passage of the 2017 Tax Act, some in the gift planning community raised the question of whether the 2017 Tax Act’s elimination of miscellaneous itemized deductions extended to the deduction for unrecovered investment in contract (UIC) at the death of the last annuitant of a charitable gift annuity, as that deduction had appeared under the heading “Other Miscellaneous Deductions” on Form 1040 Schedule A. But the 2017 Tax Act only eliminated the miscellaneous deductions subject to the 2% floor, which the UIC deduction was not subject to. The UIC deduction remains available, as is confirmed in the tax forms, instructions, and publications the IRS has issued to reflect the 2017 Tax Act changes for 2018. This deduction equals the total of all tax-free portions of the annuity that have not yet been distributed as of the death of the last annuitant and is taken on the deceased’s final income tax return.