Over the past few years, there’s been some debate in the philanthropic community over whether donor-advised funds (DAFs) actually meet the needs of the charities they’re supposed to serve. Taxpayers who contribute to DAFs can take an immediate tax deduction, but the cash can sit in the DAF indefinitely without being distributed to an actual charity. Some argue that this vehicle provides a tax break for the wealthy while others see it as a way to incentivize individuals to make donations. This debate has come to a head with the introduction of a new bill in Congress by Senators Angus King (D-ME) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, which posits several sweeping policy changes—for DAFs as well as private foundations. Among other things, the ACE Act provides an incentive in the form of an upfront charitable deduction to donors who contribute to DAFs that pay out their assets within 15 years. In their article “What Does the Proposed ACE Act Mean for Your Clients?” p. 22, Sandra G. Swirksi, Donald Kent and Christopher P. Woehrle summarize the relevant provisions of the ACE Act, discuss whether those changes will actually benefit charities and analyze the implications the ACE Act could have on clients.
Our Philanthropy Committee Report also covers other important issues practitioners face when advising charitably inclined clients, including the rules surrounding charitable pledges, planning with non-charitable trusts, handling problems that can occur with charitable remainder trusts and the need for revisions to Form 990-PF to accommodate transitioning organizations.
I would also like to welcome our new editorial advisory board member, Melissa Langa of Bove & Langa in Boston, to the International Practice Committee. She’s a co-author of International Estate Planning: A Reference Guide—Second Edition.