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Tax Changes, Markets Don't Squeeze Giving - Schwab Charitable

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor , January 25, 2019


Weaker markets and supposedly stifling effects of tax changes did not prevent record donations to charity via the route of DAFs, the organization said.

Schwab Charitable, a US provider of donor-advised funds (DAFs) and other philanthropic services, this week logged a record $2.2 billion in grants to 86,500 charities in 2018, an rise of 35 per cent from a year before. The organization said the rise defied claims that new US tax laws would deter philanthropy, and shrugged off the fall in markets last year.

Donors who were clients of the organization recommended more than 487,000 grants, up by 32 per cent.

Feeding America, Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, the Salvation Army, and Campus Crusade for Christ were the most widely supported grant recipients last year, Schwab Charitable said in a statement.

Schwab Charitable is an independent charity which serves some affiliates of brokerage and investments giant Charles Schwab. It was founded 20 years ago.

Despite concerns over the potential impact of tax reform and the year-end market correction, donors gave at historic levels. Just in the last three months of the year, donors recommended more than 210,600 grants totaling $807 million, up from 163,600 grants totaling $655 million in Q4 2017, it said.

Late in December 2017 the administration of Donald Trump enacted sweeping tax changes, including doubling the exemptions from estate tax and cutting the deductions that payers of federal income tax can make from state and local taxes. There have been concerns that wealthy donors using philanthropy to offset estate tax liability in the past would have less incentive to do so now. That claim raises the question of whether donors give to charity for stated reasons about generosity and care about issues, or to mitigate tax.

Susan Winer, a regular columnist for this publication, has addressed the risks to philanthropy from the tax changes.

Non-cash assets
More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of contributions to Schwab Charitable accounts were in the form of non-cash assets last year. The most popular assets contributed in 2018 included publicly-traded securities, restricted stock, real estate and privately held business interests.

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