Today’s legal advice is brought to you by the letter “R,” as in REDUCE your income tax by setting up a charitable trust. What is a charitable trust, you may ask, and what does it have to do with Big Bird?
Simply put, a charitable trust is a tax-exempt, irrevocable trust—usually liquid—that a generous donor legally distributes to a charitable foundation. These assets are managed by the charity for a certain time period, after which the assets belong to the charity, along with any interest or profits that may have been produced, and the assets no longer benefit the donor.
Why would anybody do such a thing? Besides the good it does the community, the answer to that question is brought to you by the letters “T” and “B,” which stand for tax breaks! Charitable trusts are a big-time winner for both the charity, which almost always needs funding, and the trustor, who receives a significant tax break during his or her lifetime. As opposed to stock investments, which are highly appreciated assets and therefore open to massive capital and estate taxes, the charitable trust allows the trustor to get a federal income tax deduction based on the value of the trust. After that, the amount of income tax owed by the trustor is determined by the revenue generated from the trust. After the allotted time for the trust expires, its ownership passes on to the trustor’s heirs, whereupon estate and gift taxes are considerably reduced.
In addition to the obvious benefit of a large tax break for the donor, the real beauty of the charitable trust is its ability to have lasting impact on the lives of people around the world. The J. Paul Getty Trust is well-known for funding arts programs all over the world, and also supports the revered Getty Museum and Getty Villa in Los Angeles.
Worth over $30 billion, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the world’s largest charitable trust, and puts its focus on high-poverty parts of the world, establishing clean water and agriculture programs.
And anyone who has seen “Sesame Street” is likely to be familiar with the Pew Charitable Trust and the MacArthur Foundation, two charities that have funded PBS for years.
So, think you’re ready to step into a charitable trust? If you have the means, a charitable trust is a great way to give back and help people in countless ways, as well as put your money to smart use. For more information about establishing a charitable trust, contact Kreisher Marshall & Associates, LLC. You can set up a consultation with one of our Columbia County estate-planning attorneys by calling (570) 784 5211.