Helen Mitchell wanted to help a local student get a college education and to honor her father’s career at WSU. Provisions in a special piece of tax legislation that expires Dec. 31 allowed her to do both.

The pension protection act of 2006 allowed Mitchell and her husband Dean, of Kennewick, to establish a scholarship endowment at WSU Tri-Cities in honor of Helen’s father, Charles E. Skinner. A graduate of Yakima High School, Skinner obtained his bachelor’s degree from Washington State College in 1921 and received the first master’s degree awarded in bacteriology in 1923. He served as chairman of the bacteriology department from 1948 to 1957.

The act of 2006 offers a way to support charities through retirement accounts without negative tax consequences to the plan owner. But some key provisions expire Dec. 31.

The act provides a way to distribute up to $100,000 per year, per taxpayer to a qualified charity — such as WSU Tri-Cities — from a traditional or Roth individual retirement account (IRA). The distributions are not reportable income to the plan owner, nor does the plan owner receive a charitable income tax deduction. However, the distribution can satisfy the plan owner’s required minimum distribution.

A qualified charitable distribution from an IRA can help donors maximize their Social Security benefits, assist donors whose income level triggers the phase-out of their exemptions, and also benefit donors who typically use the standard deduction. To take advantage of this opportunity, the plan owner must be at least 70 1/2 years of age by the date of distribution. If you do not have an IRA, other retirement plans such as TIAA-CREF [a 403(b) plan] can be rolled over into an IRA to enable you to benefit from this legislation.

“Supporting a charity of your choice through this limited time offer is a great way to fulfill your philanthropic goals,” said Vic Saunders, WSU Tri-Cities director of campus and regional development.
A number of organizations can assist in creating gift plans that reflect personal and philanthropic goals. Most universities and large charities have a gift-planning team to help you determine the donation that best suits your charitable interests, family needs and financial goals.

These teams also can help you make gifts through charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder trusts, or through a will or a living trust. These gift vehicles may provide additional benefits such as an income tax deduction, potential income for life, and possible estate tax savings.

The contact for more information about the Tax Provision for Chairities should be the Gift Planning Office at 800-448-2978 or by email at gift-planning@wsu.edu.