Tis the season when charities are making a final holiday push for money to fund their causes. They know how to tug at the heartstrings, but some folks still appear to have money to burn. Recently, I read the auction houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s, are offering purses with price tags approaching $1 million dollars. That’s a lot of moolah just to carry a lipstick. Doubtless, the purchasers will defend their extravagance by pointing out they give generously to charity. I say when a woman spends nearly $1 million dollars on a handbag, she hasn’t given enough.
A few folks in the charity game have made a study greedy behavior. Feeling good about good works isn’t a strong motivator for giving. One way to attract the super rich’s money is to let them have their cake and eat it, too. The Robin Hood Foundation, a charitable organization, works with managers of billion dollar hedge funds. Their timing is perfect because, if it passes, the Republican tax plan will bring lots of money from off-shore tax havens back into the country. Making a charitable contribution has always been a write-off, but with the Robin Hood Foundation, the new rules offer a bonanza benefit.
It allows donors not only to designate the charities they support but to control the money as well. That’s right. The super-rich get to keep what they give. The dollars stay on the company’s books, allowing it to maintain a healthy bottom line.
“Yeah,” you say. “But the money is earmarked for charity, right?”
Well, in a way. Eventually. As no regulations exist for this type of donation, it’s possible for contributors to dole out their money in small sums and over a long period of time — possibly for several generations. In effect, they have bought into a tax shelter. It’s a sweet deal for everyone but the poor. (“Pleasing the Rich to Give to the Poor,” by Katherine Burton and Margaret Collins, Bloomberg Businessweek, November 20, 2017, pgs. 30-31.)