Website calculates retirement benefits
Employees participating in PERS 1, 2 or 3 have just been sent their 2004-2005 annual statements. With this information, they can create their own retirement benefit estimates. Based on the actual data in their account, including service credit, they can determine the earliest date they would be eligible to retire.

To do this, visit the state Department of Retirement Systems website at www.drs.wa.gov, click on “Online Access to Your Defined Benefit Account,” then go to the Benefit Estimator. Since this is a secure online service, you will need to register.

This site also lets you review your service credit, beneficiary designation or account balance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Retirement newsletter moves to online only
Four times a year the state Department of Retirement Systems sends employees the quarterly Retirement Outlook newsletter. Starting this quarter, instead of receiving this newsletter in the mail, employees need to view the document electronically.

Use the following URL address to download the newsletter: www.drs.wa.gov/outlook/active. Should you have questions, contact DRS Employer Support Services at 360-664-7200 (press option 2) or 800-547-6657 (press option 6, then option 2).

Also, WSU’s Benefit Services Office has a few copies of the newsletter; call Marie Weiss, 335-4580, to request one.

Katrina tax act expands incentives for big givers
Americans have responded in record numbers to the natural disasters of 2005 with extraordinary generosity. Congress has responded as well. To encourage immediate gifts of cash to all charitable organizations, Congress enacted the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005 (KETRA).

According to Senate Finance Chair Charles Grassley (R-IA), special incentives were included in the KETRA legislation to “encourage charitable giving outside of Katrina relief, to prevent the rest of the nation’s charities from seeing a downturn in giving as they did after the events of 9/11.”

In particular, KETRA contains two expanded tax incentives for those who make charitable gifts of cash to any qualified charity between Aug. 28 and Dec. 31.

For more information, visit the WSU Foundation website at http://wsufoundation.wsu.edu and click on the “KETRA Tax Law Change” link in the lower left-hand corner.