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Charitable Gift Annuities - A Time to Revisit

If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain.
If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees.
If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.
- Chinese Proverb

Like many Americans you may have read recently the cautionary article that described in detail the potential charitable gift annuities have for being yet another scam ready to victimize our elderly. At the same time we can turn on the radio just about any day to learn from Angela Lansbury and other celebrities that charitable gift annuities are a wonderful opportunity not to be passed over.

So where does the real truth lie? Bottom line, charitable gift annuities continue to provide a good option for those who seek to guarantee income for themselves while also supporting the charities in which they believe.

And what about the potential for abuse by unscrupulous organizations? The article rightfully raised concerns about those organizations that promise payments without the resources to support their "guarantee". It highlighted the need to insure that the charity is legitimate, is truly philanthropic in its mission, and has every intention of fulfilling its promise. For residents of New Hampshire these considerations are made a little easier; New Hampshire has chosen to protect its citizens by closely regulating charities offering annuities.

Charitable gift annuities have long been a part of America's philanthropic landscape. In essence they are simple contracts whereby an organization, in exchange for a gift such as stock, cash, or real property will promise to make income payments for the lifetime of the beneficiaries designated by the donor (up to a maximum of two). Most often the income beneficiary is also the donor and/or a spouse; however, annuities can be used to provide for others such as parents, siblings, or even children.

How much might the donor reasonably expect to receive as payment? As a general rule most organizations follow the rates prescribed by the American Council on Gift Annuities. Payout rates are a function of the number and ages of the beneficiaries.For example, (note: THESE RATES ARE EXAMPLES ONLY, PLEASE CHECK CURRENT RATES).

And, for two lives

Depending upon the nature of the assets used to fund the annuity a portion of the income may escape taxation, increasing the effective yield. A gift of cash maximizes the amount of tax-free income.

For those individuals who hold highly-appreciated assets the charitable gift annuity offers additional benefits. Companies that have seen strong growth over time often have stock that provides investors a lower yield. If stockholders were to sell the stock in order to seek assets with a higher yield they would have to first pay a 20% capital gains tax on all of the growth their stock had seen since they acquired it. Not an especially attractive option. However, if these stockholders were to donate the appreciated stock to the charity of their choice in exchange for a gift annuity they would be able to avoid all capital gain tax and the entire value would be available to them for funding the annuity.

Finally, a charitable gift annuity offers two additional benefits: a federal charitable deduction for a portion of the value of the gift and the knowledge that the donor has supported the mission of an organizations whose work deserves recognition. For the individual who wishes to increase income from less-than-productive assets while also supporting charity there are few options as favorable in this economy as the charitable gift annuity.

If you have given thought to a charitable gift annuity, or would like to explore the benefits in confidence, please contact: Joseph Quintanilla at jquintanilla@nbp.org.

Do your givin' while you're livin'... then you'll be knowin' where it's goin'. - Ann Landers

Deborah Blackmore Abrams (c)2004, 2007



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