BCLP Charity Law

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Charities and Life Insurance – A Growing Trend?

Life insurance has always been an important part of charitable giving.  Although there are legitimate uses, over the years the IRS has identified certain abuses regarding the use of life insurance in charitable planning.  In our practice, we have seen a recent surge in charitable planning techniques involving life insurance.  Before your charity accepts a gift of life insurance, you should consider several issues, including the following:  (1) the application of Section 170(f)(10), the so-called “charitable split-dollar rules” (which, if applicable, impose an excise tax on the charity equal to 100% of the premium payments), (2) applicable state insurable interest laws, (3) private inurement, private benefit, and excess benefit rules, (4) unrelated business income rules (and debt-financed income rules, to the extent the life insurance was acquired with borrowed funds), (5) the partial interest rules (impacting both the income and gift tax deduction of the donor), (6) I.R.C. § 4944, the jeopardizing investment rules, and I.R.C. §

Don’t Forget to Maintain Donation Records

September 2, 2010


In order to be entitled to a charitable deduction for cash donations, a donor must maintain records providing evidence of the donation.  For example, for tax years after August 17, 2006, a donor must maintain a bank record or a written receipt from the donee showing the name of the donee organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution in order to deduct any contribution of cash, check, or other monetary gift (additional rules apply for donations of $250 or more).

The Tax Court re-emphasized the strictness of this requirement in a recent case.  In Fessey v. Comm., T.C. Memo. 2010-191 (Aug. 30, 2010), the taxpayer alleged that he donated $920 in cash in 2004 to a church by way of $20 weekly cash donations made to the church’s offering plate.  The taxpayer provided the Court with a computer printout listing the date, amount, and recipient of his donations.  However, the taxpayer did not produce a receipt or any form

IRS Releases Ten Tips for Taxpayers Making Charitable Donations

August 26, 2010


The IRS is always so helpful, and has just published “Ten Tips for Taxpayers Making Charitable Donations” (IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2010-21). You can view the item on the IRS website by clicking here and the website has links for IRS publications along the charitable giving lines. Since most of you that read this blog are affiliated with tax-exempt organizations as officers, advisors or consultants or advise high-net-worth charitable donors, this may be a resource for your donors or clients, or maybe you actually are inclined to give yourself, not that there’s any pressure or anything.

Accepting Gifts… Should You?

Accepting Gifts… Should You?

August 24, 2010

Authored by: Erika Labelle

Charitable organizations receive all types of donations, including cash,  personal property, and even business interests.  Often times, the charity is so excited about a potential gift that no diligence is completed prior to acceptance, and failure to complete diligence on gifts can turn out to be costly.    Take gifts of real property – these are very common and can be financially beneficial to a charity.  However, without completing diligence, the charity may find that it now owns a superfund site.   Another not-so-obvious example is a donation of stock.  Although most donated stock is marketable, certain types of stock, including stock in an S corporation (usually small, family owned corporations), are not.  This post explores the implications of a charity accepting gifts of S corporation stock.  

Subchapter S corporations can only have certain types of shareholders.  Generally, these “permissible shareholders” include individuals (who are not nonresident aliens), estates, certain trusts, and certain exempt organizations.  We will

Charitable Income Tax Deduction Limitations – Part II – Gifts of Appreciated Assets

August 17, 2010


Last week, I posted about the income tax deductibility limitations for gifts of cash to a public charity versus a private foundation.  Today:  the same analysis but for long-term, capital assets that have a fair market value at the date of the donation higher than the donor’s cost basis in the property.

In general, the AGI* deductibility limitation for gifts of long-term holdings of appreciated assets made to public charities (or “50% charities”) is reduced to 30% unless the donor elects to step down the deductible contribution base of the long-term capital gain property from fair market value to cost basis. Therefore, in general, gifts of long-term appreciated marketable securities to a public charity can be deducted at their fair market value on the date of the gift, subject to the 30% AGI deduction limitation, and any overage may be carried over for up to five additional tax years, but if the donor

Charitable Income Tax Deduction Limitations – Part I – Gifts of Cash

August 13, 2010


Maybe it’s a little premature, as it’s still summer in most of the country, but as we approach year end, perhaps it’s a good time for a refresher on the charitable donation income tax limitations.  Personally, I’m not at the stage of my wealth lifetime where these issues apply to me.  However, I aspire to have issues like these to worry about someday.  For those of you already there, or for those of you who have clients or donors who are, here is a reminder of the deduction amounts and limitations for gifts of cash to a public charity versus a private foundation.

In general, gifts of cash made to public charities receive the most favored tax treatment. These organizations are generally referred to as “50% charities” because the AGI* percentage limitation for income tax deductions applicable to charitable contributions to these organizations is 50%. These organizations are favored because

Say Thank You… But For How Much?

Last week, my husband and I attended an event for one of our favorite charities. For a $160 donation, the two of us enjoyed a nice steak and lobster dinner and an open bar. This was a great deal for the charity – since all of the food and drinks had been donated. At the silent auction, I successfully bid on a dinner party for 4, hosted by a famous local chef who donated the item. And I got a great deal on that dinner – it normally goes for $300, and all I paid was $150! My husband won the raffle – for five dollars, he entered for the chance to win all of the money in the pot, and scored a whopping $510! Of course, being the charitable person that he is (and with a bit of urging), he donated the entire amount back to the charity. Finally, after watching the

August 2010 Interest Rates Indicate a Great Time for a Charitable Lead Trust (“CLT”)

The rate that the IRS uses to calculate the present value of an annuity has dropped to 2.6% for August. This is historically a very low rate, as just two years ago the rate was 4.2% and within the last decade the rate reached 8.2%. Clients are generally aware that such low rates present estate planning opportunities for vehicles such as Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, where the ability of the trust to obtain an investment yield higher than 2.6% presents real family wealth transfer opportunities. However, clients with charitable intentions need to be aware that the same low interest rate is of substantial benefit in family wealth planning involving CLTs.

A CLT is both a family wealth transfer vehicle, as well as a charitable giving vehicle. A trust is established which pays an annuity to charity for a period of years, and at the end of that term of years,

IRS Confirms Timing of Deductibility of Donations by Credit Card

July 22, 2010


Each year, sometime in early December, my spouse and I discuss our charitable donations to be made prior to year-end. We look at what donations we made up to that point, and then together decide what we’re going to donate prior to December 31 so that we can deduct these donations on that year’s income tax return. Once we decide our charities and amounts, we set about to implement our plan. Frequently, that means going online and giving via credit card payment through the organization’s website.

Frankly, it never occurred to me that because I actually pay these credit card bills in January of the following year that there could be an argument that because I actually paid the amount the following year I couldn’t deduct it the year in which I clicked “confirm donation” on the website.

I’m in luck. The IRS recently confirmed that you can