Legacy giving by us Christians is unique and distinct because it is a spiritually motivated, not a tax motivated decision.
However, much of the legacy giving in the USA is driven by tax avoidance, not biblical stewardship principles. As Americans we still enjoy the most favorable tax system in the world in terms of encouraging and facilitating charitable giving. So without question we should seek to maximize the available tax benefits in our giving. But, at the end of the day we christians must recognize we shall be held accountable by God for how we steward what He has entrusted to us. And, a legacy gift is a gift you can’t put in the offering plate; it is a gift out of your assets, not your income, and it is made in light of your overall estate and financial plans.
It is important to remember charitable giving in America preceded all of our current tax systems. Many charitable organizations were created and continuously funded through generous outright gifts, bequests in wills and life income gifts before the establishment of the modern federal income tax in 1913, the federal estate tax in 1917 and the federal gift tax in 1935.
I am pleased to acknowledge those whom the KBF has had the privilege of assisting have demonstrated their primary motivation to give was not the tax savings opportunities, but the opportunities to make an impact, to make a lasting difference, to leave a legacy of their love for Christ and His mission in this world through their churches and other christian ministries near and dear to their hearts.
Having said that, taxes can play an important role in the size and the timing of legacy gifts. Inherent in the mission of the KBF is to facilitate the making of legacy gifts by simplifying the process and ensuring each giver is maximizing the tax savings opportunities available. To that end the KBF makes available to all Kentucky Baptists confidential estate and charitable gift planning consultation.
Please call toll free Laurie Valentine, our trust counsel, for assistance in fulfilling the teaching of Jesus to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
Barry Allen is the retired President and CEO of the KBF and currently serves as a consultant to the interim management team. This article published in this week's Western Recorder also appeared in a previous edition of the paper. The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.