CHARITABLE IRA INITIATIVE
HR 5171 LEGACY IRA ACT
SUMMER ADVOCACY CAMPAIGN
Since 2006 the IRA Charitable Rollover has allowed generous, older Americans to donate millions of dollars from their Individual Retirement Accounts directly to America’s charities – and the populations they serve – during a time when traditional charitable contributions were on the decline or remained flat. The IRA Rollover has generated an enormous amount of new charitable giving to thousands of nonprofits that work every day to enrich lives and strengthen communities across the country. Congress voted to make the IRA Rollover a permanent part of the tax code at the end of 2015. With this permanent, albeit limited, IRA Rollover firmly in place, now is the time to push for an expanded provision.
Accordingly, the Charitable IRA Initiative is proud to support the Legacy IRA Act (HR 5171), new federal legislation that would significantly expand the current-law IRA Rollover to allow for life-income gifts, including charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts. The Charitable IRA Initiative believes this legislation will allow an entire generation of Americans with average resources to make critical gifts to charitable organizations in their communities while still receiving a modest amount of retirement income.
To help build support for the Legacy IRA Act and encourage Congress to move on this legislation before the end of the year, we are asking all members to join together over the coming weeks, scheduled to correspond with the Congressional summer recess (mid-July through Labor Day), and reach out to their United States Representatives and ask them to join HR 5171 as cosponsors. Summer recess is a period when Representatives are back in their home districts and set aside time to meet with community leaders on issues presently before Congress, so please take action today. Below you will find all the information you need to participate.
Step 1: Identify your United States Representative
Visit the House of Representatives website and click on “Find Your Representative.” Enter your zip code (or street address) to determine who represents you. Follow the link to your Representative’s website. Take note of your Representative’s district office location nearest you and look for the contact information.
Step 2: Request a meeting
Contact the district office location nearest you by telephone. State your name, title and organization, and explain that you would like to meet with your Representative during the summer recess. Odds are you will be sent to a staffer’s voicemail or asked to leave a message with the receptionist. Some offices may require that you submit a written request for a meeting. If so, see sample text below. Other offices may direct you to an on-line request form.
★ ★ ★
Dear Representative [Name],
I am writing to request a brief meeting with you during the Congressional recess to discuss legislation presently before Congress that would greatly enhance charitable giving in our community and throughout the country.
As a resident of [city], I currently work as [title] at [organization]. [Provide brief description of organization, particularly explaining the role organization plays in your community.]
I would like to meet with you to discuss the IRA Charitable Rollover, a provision in the tax code that allows older Americans to make gifts from their Individual Retirement Accounts directly to public charities without having to report the IRA distribution as taxable income on their federal tax return. This provision has been widely successful in generating an enormous amount of new charitable giving to charities in your district, and there is presently legislation (the Legacy IRA Act, HR 5171) before Congress that would expand this important giving incentive to many of your constituents that may have only average or modest means but still want to donate IRA funds to the charities they care about.
I will follow up on this request with your office by phone in the next few days. In the meantime, I can be reached at [telephone] or [email]. If you are unable to meet with me personally, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with a member of your staff.
Thank you in advance for considering my request.
After leaving a message or sending a written request for a meeting, make sure to call the office to follow-up. If your Representative can meet with you, confirm the exact time and location of the meeting. If your Representative is unable to meet with you, request to meet with a staffer. Be persistent, and remember that most Representatives set aside time during the summer recess to meet with constituents about issues of concern.
Step 3: Meet with Your Representative (or a staffer)
Once your meeting is set, take time to browse the website of your Representative. Read the Representative’s biography, recent press releases, and any position statements. What issues seem to be most important to the Representative? Does anything in the biography resonate with your organization or you personally? Knowing this information will help you during your meeting.
During the meeting refer to the suggested talking points below. Beyond the specifics of the bill, however, take great care to explain how your organization – and the population your organization serves – would benefit from an expanded IRA Rollover. Conclude the meeting by asking your Representative to join the Legacy IRA Act as a cosponsor.
If questions come up during the meeting that you don’t know the answer to, don’t worry. Simply explain that you don’t have that information at present and promise to follow-up. Your Representative (or their staffer) doesn’t expect you to be an expert on the legislation, just a constituent who is passionate about the topic at hand.
★ ★ ★
- Under current law, individuals age 70 ½ or older can make gifts from an Individual Retirement Account of up to $100,000 per year directly to public charities (other than donor advised funds and supporting organizations) without having to report the IRA distributions as taxable income on their federal income tax returns. Although a charitable deduction isn’t allowed, not being taxed on otherwise taxable income is the equivalent of a deduction.
- First enacted in 2006, this law was made permanent at the end of 2015. Over the last 10 years, direct IRA rollovers have helped American charities feed the hungry as well as provide education, medical services, housing assistance and myriad other services that Americans need.
- [Explain in detail how your organization has benefited from such direct gifts.]
- Earlier this year, Representative Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with several other members of the Ways & Means Committee introduced the Legacy IRA Act (HR 5171), which authorizes tax-free IRA rollovers for life-income gifts which both benefits charities and provides taxable retirement income for the donors.
- In short, the Legacy IRA Act permits life-income rollovers at age 65 and maintains direct rollovers beginning at age 70½. Qualified life-income plans include charitable remainder trusts and charitable gift annuities. There is a $400,000 cap for life-income gifts beginning at age 65, and for individuals 70½ or older, the combined ceiling for direct and life-income transfers is $400,000 with a $100,000 cap for direct transfers.
- Under the authorized life-income plans, the IRA owners will be taxed on income received at ordinary income tax rates. Because the payouts on these plans are five percent or more, there generally will be more income paid from the charitable life-income plans than under the normal minimum required distribution rules.
- The only authorized income beneficiaries of the life-income plans are the individual IRA owner, his or her spouse, or both. At death, the assets in the plan go directly to the named qualified charity or charities and not to family members.
- Estimates suggest that IRAs and other qualified plans in this country contain trillions of dollars in assets. Many of these IRA owners want to make charitable gifts but also need retirement income. Life-income gifts under the Legacy IRA Act are a way for donors of average resources to combine charitable gifts with retirement income. It will allow Americans of average means (who meet the minimum age requirement), and not just wealthy taxpayers, to benefit charities and the people and communities those charities serve.
- The bill’s cost (or score) is only $106 million over 10 years. This is a tiny fraction of the money – potentially billions of dollars in new charitable giving – that charities could receive if the Legacy IRA Act is enacted into law. This figure is also significantly lower than previous versions of IRA Rollover legislation that included a life-income component.
- Please join the Legacy IRA Act (HR 5171) as a cosponsor. The contact in Representative Roskam’s office is Joe Fawell. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-225-4561. Thank you.
Step 4: Follow-Up
Send a thank you letter that reinforces your request that your Representative join the Legacy IRA Act as a cosponsor. See sample text below. If you promised to follow-up with any specific information, make sure to do so. Contact the IRA Initiative (email@example.com) if you need help answering any questions that arise during a meeting.
★ ★ ★
Dear Representative [Name],
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me about the IRA Charitable Rollover on [date/time].
As we discussed, new legislation (the Legacy IRA Act, HR 5171) is pending before Congress that would greatly expand the current-law IRA Rollover to allow for life-income gifts, including charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts. I firmly believe this legislation will benefit not only your older constituents but the many important charities serving your district as well.
[Provide any follow-up information promised during the meeting and/or reinforce how your organization specifically would benefit from the Legacy IRA Act.]
I am hopeful you will join HR 5171 as a cosponsor. This important legislation stands a better chance of enactment with you on board. If you are willing to sign on, the contact in Representative Roskam’s office is Joe Fawell, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-225-4561. If you need any additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [telephone] or [email].
Step 5: Report your Participation
After meeting with your Representative, visit the IRA Initiative’s brief, seven-question survey to register your activity. This information will allow us to track all meetings and conduct appropriate follow-up on a national level.
If your schedule does not permit you to meet with your Representative, you are concerned that your Representative has already met with individuals on the Legacy IRA Act, or you simply feel your Representative’s office is more informal in nature, consider making a phone call, faxing a letter, or sending an email.
Phone — Contact your Representative’s DC office (not the district office) by phone and ask to speak with the staffer who handles tax issues. Use the talking points provided above to request that your Representative join HR 5171 as a cosponsor.
Fax — Drafting a letter and faxing it to your Representative remains one of the most effective forms of grassroots advocacy. Customize the sample text provided above and fax the letter to your Representative at his/her DC office. The letter should find its way to the staffer who handles tax issues. Follow-up with a phone call to ensure your letter is received and considered.
E-mail — Most Representatives have electronic forms on their websites that allow their constituents to quickly email letters about pressing legislative issues. Simply customize the sample text provided above, paste it into the form, and click send.