Gridlock on Capitol Hill Frustrates Would Be Philanthropists & Charities Alike

For the most part we try to steer clear of raw political debate, choosing instead to focus our time and energy trying to figure out how legislative priorities are likely to alter the contours of the capital markets at home and abroad. In this case we’ll make an exception. The failure by this nation’s 113th Congress to take up reauthorization of Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) from IRA accounts that expired on December 31, 2013 in a timely manner is downright shameful. First authorized in 2006, QCD’s are used primarily by investors over the age of 70 1/2 to satisfy their required minimum distribution while simultaneously channeling funds directly to charities of all stripes. Religious groups, social service providers, disaster relief agencies, educational institutions, medical research, and the arts all have one thing in common: they require a steady stream of private donation in order to fulfill their mission. At a time when the equity markets are touching an all time high and a record number of investors are reaching an age where IRA distributions are compulsory, it simply makes no sense to delay reauthorization of this important funding source any longer. More to the point, Congressional leadership from both parties should cease their senseless dithering and take this measure up as soon as they return from the summer recess. And finally, Congress should avoid a repeat of the shenanagins accompanying the Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 that thwarted many would be philanthropists by authorizing QCDs for 2012 but waiting to enact the bill until January of 2013. We all deserve better.

Michael Reid, CFA