Good news for those interested in making charitable gifts came from the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 12.
The vote was 279-136 in favor of passing the America Gives More Act of 2015. It adopts four provisions that are important to charitable organizations such as the Community Foundation of Jackson County and to prospective donors concerned with the best means of passing along their wealth.
The America Gives More Act of 2015 now awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate, where timing on consideration of the bill remains uncertain.
The Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, the Council on Foundations and the Community Foundation of Jackson County remain committed to seeing these provisions become law. They would help foundations and the charities they assist better serve and improve their communities.
Those four provisions would:
Make permanent the IRA charitable rollover. This would allow tax-free distributions from IRAs for charitable purposes. It provides that individuals who are at least 70½ years old may make tax-free distributions of up to $100,000 per year from an IRA to a qualifying charitable organization. According to testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRA charitable distribution option prompted more than $140 million in charitable donations, with the median gift just less than $4,500, during the first two years the provision was available. Think of the impact such giving can — and has already — made in Jackson County through gifts to Community Foundation of Jackson County. When those contributions are made into endowed funds, that impact continues in perpetuity.
Simplify the private foundation excise tax to a flat rate of 1 percent.
Make permanent and expand the charitable deduction for donations of conservation easements.
And make permanent and expand the charitable deduction for donations of food inventory.
How would they encourage charitable giving? For the Community Foundation of Jackson County and others across the Hoosier state, charitable giving would be encouraged by making permanent several tax policies that have proved successful in increasing community investment, most notably the IRA charitable rollover.
With the provision being permanent, individual donors would have certainty when planning their charitable gifts and allow more charitable dollars to flow into communities across the country and here in Indiana.
The bill, if enacted into law, should have clear and real impact across the country on people served by the philanthropic sector. We encourage House and Senate leadership to work together on a bipartisan basis to ensure these charitable provisions become law.
As noted in an earlier column, Indiana 9th District Rep. Todd Young supports the measure and voted for it Feb. 12. We hope Indiana Sens. Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly will vote for the America Gives More Act of 2015 when it comes up for a vote in U.S. Senate.
The Council on Foundations reported that some of those opposed to the Act — including the Obama Administration — complain the tax cut provisions are not offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. The council expressed concern Feb. 13 that if the bill does gain passage in the Senate that it could face a veto from President Obama. We hope not.
So we encourage you to contact Coats and Donnelly, along with President Obama, and voice your support for the bill. Your voice could make a difference. Your voice could make a difference and help make a difference in our own community.
Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour, IN 47274. For information about donating to the foundation, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to [email protected].