Tax Deal: Does it impact fundraising?

Image result for tax plan cartoonIt looks like we’ll have a tax bill signed any day and now we are left trying to figure out what impact, if any, this may have on nonprofit fundraising.

While many final details are still to be revealed, here are the main items that may impact our donors and their giving:

  • “[T]he corporate tax rate would be cut to 21 percent, while the top tax rate for individuals would drop to 37 percent from 39.6 percent. The new rates would take effect next year.”  –  Highest earner get a bit of a break (but might very well get hurt by other things in the bill). For example, if your AGI is $500,000, you just saved approximately $13,000.  You will probably lose more than that if you live in an expensive neighborhood with a really big mortgage (i.e. your real estate taxes are more than $10,000 a year and your mortgage is over $750,000 – see below).
  • “The deduction for state and local taxes would be capped at $10,000 and taxpayers would be able to choose to deduct their property or income taxes, source said.” – Is the $13,000+ break from bullet point # 1 enough to offset the loss from this bill if you pay more than $10,000 in real estate taxes?  The irony of this point is that it really hurts the wealthier sector – something not reported in the media very well.
  • “The standard deduction would be doubled under the deal, to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families.” – This may actually put more money in the pockets of your middle and lower middle earners!  Again, not reported in the media very well. Still, the question is if this disincentivizes charitable giving for those who now will no longer need to itemize?  I suspect not but I am ready to start touting the IRS rollover giving provision in a big way for those 70.5+.  You know what, I will be shocked if this hurts charities at all.
  • “Republicans senators leaving a GOP lunch told NBC News that the agreement would also set deductions for pass-through income at 20 percent.” – I am not sure what this means!
  • “Under the deal, the mortgage interest deduction would be allowed on loans up to $750,000, the sources said.” – Again, hurts our wealthiest sector.  Ironically, nonprofit fundraising could be hurt if this sector is feeling really poor after they finally realize what happened.  Not sure it will impact charity!

The verdict?

Still out.  I am leaning towards people on the higher wealth/earning end looking for more deductions and therefore more charitable giving!  Ok, I am an optimist.  Most likely result for nonprofits: no change.

Look for more posts on this topic as the final details come to light.

Fiscal Cliff Causing Donors To Accelerate Their Giving?

I don’t believe it.

Donors accelerating their giving in 2012 ahead of fiscal cliff?  Check out this Wall Street Journal article:  WSJ click here.

Please readers – comment on this one.  If you read the linked article, you will notice that the three big investment firm Donor Advised Funds were interviewed.  Sure, their donations are up but are yours?

Yes, there has been talk about capping deductions – which primarily hurts the value of charitable deductions for higher income earners. I even wrote about that possibility less than two weeks ago.  And, yes, if a fiscal cliff compromise ends up being this back-door tax raise of capping deductions, then advisors will certainly advise their wealthier clients to accelerate their giving (particularly to donor advised funds which allow donors to time the distributions in future years).

But, capping deductions is just talk and not intelligent policy (at least if you ask me).  Honestly, not likely to happen.  What is likely to happen is income tax rates returning to Clinton era rates – it is happening automatically come January 1, if Congress can’t find a compromise.  Do you think there is going to be compromise over the next few weeks?  I don’t.

I actually suspect that advisors may advise clients to hold off on their year-end giving so that they can use their charitable deductions in 2013 when they may really need it.  I also suspect that there is so much uncertainly (tax rates, investments, well-being of the country, etc..), people may just stay put with their giving and investments.

Back to that article – you have wonder.  Only the donor advised funds interviewed actually stated their increased giving.  Others interviewed did not.  I agree that individuals may like the certainty of parking money at a donor advised fund – just in case the charitable deduction is tampered with.  But, a big increase in year-end giving in 2012?  Hard to believe.