Foundations weigh in on policy

As the recession rages on, a membership group of more than 2,100 funders has published a legislative agenda that aims to boost charitable giving.

The Council on Foundations published several recommendations for the coming year that it believes complement President Obama’s call to national service.

Among other recommendations, the council suggests:

* Making permanent the provision that allows older Americans to make donations from their IRA retirement accounts directly to charities and allow similar tax-free transfers to be made from IRAs to donor-advised funds at local community foundations.

* Revising the current excise tax on private foundations in favor of a flat, revenue-neutral excise tax to help foundations maintain their grantmaking.

* Creating a permanent estate-tax rate of 45 percent, with a $3.5 million exclusion, to encourage wealthy families and individuals to donate.

* Maintaining charitable-deduction rates for those making more than $250,000 a year rather than dropping the cap to 28 percent as proposed by President Obama.

“I am confident that we in the philanthropic sector will meet the challenges presented by today’s economic realities,” Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the council, says in an open letter to his membership.

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