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Wednesday May 27, 2015

Washington News

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Highway Bill Extended to July 31

After 33 prior temporary plans for the Highway Trust Fund, on May 19, the House voted 387-35 in favor of another two month extension. There is no new funding in the bill, but the existing highway development projects will continue using available trust funds.

The Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (H.R. 2353) was jointly introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Ways and Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI). Ryan and Schuster jointly stated, "This legislation will allow transportation spending to continue through July, while we work towards a next step to close the Trust Fund's shortfall. Doing so will require our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to be constructive in working towards a solution. Only then will we be able to produce a plan that gives states the certainty they need to build the roads, bridges, and other infrastructure our communities and economies need to thrive."

The White House indicated that it would support the bill. The White House statement noted, "With surface transportation funding authorization running out at the end of this month and hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, the Administration does not oppose passage of H.R. 2353, recognizing that a short-term extension of these authorities will be necessary in order for the Congress to complete work on a long-term bill that increases investment to meet the nation's infrastructure needs."

Editor's Note: All parties in Washington are disappointed that a 34th extension is necessary. The key issue was highlighted by Sen. Hatch (R-UT) on the Senate floor. He observed that the six-year highway bill every party hopes for is going to require $90 billion in added funding. The preference of many Senators is for a gas tax increase to produce these funds. The last gas tax increase was in 1993. Since that time, the Federal gas tax has been 18.4 cents per gallon and the tax on diesel has been 24.4 cents. With this two-month extension, the House and Senate will face this funding challenge in June.

Chairman Ryan Advocates Early Extenders Passage

On May 19, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants at their annual Washington meeting. Ryan expressed hope that Congress would act by summer on the tax extenders. He hopes to avoid the end-of-year problems that have caused difficulty for the IRA charitable rollover and other provisions.

Ryan stated, "What happened last year was that you had to wait until December 11th to find out if these provisions, which are typically in the code, were going to continue or not. We do not want to see things like that happening again."

The House has previously passed the America's Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015 (H.R. 636) and the America Gives More Act of 2015 (H.R. 644).

The Senate has not yet acted on a permanent tax extenders bill. On May 20, Senate Finance Committee Chair Oren Hatch (R-UT) indicated that he was "game" to attempt to renew the tax extenders this summer. However, he did caution that the Senate process makes such a renewal fairly challenging.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has been attempting to build support for a bill that combines the tax extenders and an extension of the Highway Trust Fund. Sen. Hatch suggested he was open to this effort, but indicated, "It is always difficult because some people get their extender in and others don't."

Hatch hopes to work with Chairman Ryan to pursue a tax extenders bill this summer. He continued, "I have a high opinion of Paul Ryan, and he's a serious guy."

Editor's Note: Supporters of philanthropy are hopeful there will be a permanent IRA charitable rollover in a bill this summer. If the legislative process carries over into September, it is quite possible that the IRA Charitable Rollover could be passed again very late in the year. Members of both parties express a strong belief that the rollover will be passed this year retroactive to January 1. However, most IRA owners and their advisors will await official action by Congress before taking action.

Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2015

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced the Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2015. In previous sessions of Congress, he had introduced a similar bill. The bill included co-sponsors Susan Collins (R-ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Thad Cochran (R-MS).

The act will permanently permit IRA Rollovers for individuals over age 70½. There will be no tax for transfers from IRAs to qualified charities. It also enables IRA rollovers to be completed to "split-interest entities" if the IRA owner is over age 59½.

There are three permitted types of split-interest entities. These could include a charitable remainder annuity trust or unitrust, a pooled income fund, or a charitable gift annuity.

Editor's Note: The Charitable IRA Initiative, Inc. is a Sec. 501(c)(4) organization that supports a permanent and expanded IRA rollover. The organization is a coalition of leaders from the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA), the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP), the National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) and other charitable organizations. It recognizes that there are three principal efforts to expand IRA giving. The America Gives More Act would make permanent IRA Rollovers with the $100,000 existing limit. The Public Good IRA Rollover Act creates opportunity for both current and life income IRA Rollovers. Another option is the All-American IRA Rollover Act that also includes permanent and life-income IRA Rollovers with certain limits.

Applicable Federal Rate of 2.0% for June -- Rev. Rul. 2015-14; 2015-22 IRB 1 (18 May 2015)

The IRS has announced the Applicable Federal Rate (AFR) for June of 2015. The AFR under Section 7520 for the month of June will be 2.0%. The rates for May of 1.8% or April of 2.0% also may be used. The highest AFR is beneficial for charitable deductions of remainder interests. The lowest AFR is best for lead trusts and life estate reserved agreements. With a gift annuity, if the annuitant desires greater tax-free payments the lowest AFR is preferable. During 2015, pooled income funds in existence less than three tax years must use a 1.2% deemed rate of return. Federal rates are available by clicking here.

Published May 22, 2015

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