Letters to the Editor - Nov. 20

November 20, 2011

Law allows for tax-free charitable transfers from IRAs

To the editor:

Since 1974, millions of Americans have saved billions of pre-tax dollars in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Thanks to continued savings and investment returns, an estimated $3.6 trillion is currently invested in IRAs, and the total continues to grow. Last December, Congress extended a federal law allowing IRA owners to share the wealth of their retirement savings by giving directly to charity, without first counting it as income and paying income tax.

This is a wonderful win-win — both for people who would rather give to charity than pay taxes and for the nonprofit organizations they choose to support. Thanks to decades of deliberate saving and favorable investment returns, a substantial number of today’s retirees have more money in their IRAs than they’ll ever need. Many have expressed an interest in giving the funds to charity but, until this law was passed, income tax had to be paid on all withdrawals, which sharply reduced the value of the gift. Others have asked about designating their children as beneficiaries, but that may draw additional tax consequences. For larger estates, a good portion of IRA wealth goes to estate taxes and the income taxes of beneficiaries. Experts estimate heirs will receive less than 32 percent of most IRA assets that pass through estates.

Through an extension of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, a different option remains available: By transferring IRA assets directly to the Community Foundation, the money is not included in the IRA owner’s income and — most importantly — is not taxed, preserving the full amount for charitable purposes. The law covers all gifts made through Dec. 31, 2011.

Holders of traditional and Roth IRAs who are at least 70 years old can make direct charitable transfers up to $100,000 per year. As a qualified public charity, the Community Foundation can help donors execute the transfers and choose from several charitable fund options for their gift. However, Donor-Advised Funds do not qualify for tax-free IRA transfers.

This really is a limited-time offer: The window is open now, but it will close on Jan. 1, unless Congress extends it again. For anyone interested in establishing a permanent legacy in this community, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to make the gift of a lifetime. For people who care deeply about this community and its citizens, this is an excellent way to address our most-pressing needs — today and for generations to come.

Through philanthropic services, strategic investments and community leadership, the Community Foundation of Washington County MD, Inc. helps people support the causes they care about, now and for generations to come. For information, call 301-745-5210.

Brad Sell, executive director
Community Foundation of Washington County MD, Inc.

Are church and state no longer separate?

To the editor:

What has happened to our concept of separation of church and state? Our present collection of hopefuls to become our next president disappoints many to believe that the decline of America is picking up steam. Those seeking the highest office in America should be discussing ways to solve our serious problems of the economy, jobs, etc. You would think that they are campaigning for ecclesiastical office.

I fear that overzealous religious, right-wing fanatics are trying to influence our elections for the purpose of amending the First Amendment. Those running for the office of President of the United States who are dwelling on religion in this campaign should not be trusted to serve in any public office, and the media is of no help, either. We should be focused on our everyday problems here in our country.

We the people have no control as to how our elected officials will apply their religious beliefs to their proposals or ways of governing. We must at some time in our life depend on our instincts and trust.

Tom Wilhelm

Gloves, I believe, are misunderstood

To the editor:

I am writing this letter to you in order to discuss an issue that reflects the lack of common courtesy and decency in our current society. The issue at hand involves handlers of food, and their lack of care when preparing food.

As a professional in the medical field, we are taught about the importance of proper technique to prevent contamination and the spread of germs. However, I feel that this issue truly affects every person since we all need food to survive, and antibiotic resistance is at an all-time high. For example, the use of gloves in food preparation may appear to help at first, but gloves themselves will not help if the person wearing them does not use them correctly. Personally, I prefer establishments that allow you to watch your food as it’s prepared, so you can be certain that your food is handled properly. Unfortunately, there were three establishments locally that I no longer visit due to poor hygiene and care while preparing my food. I have listed two examples to prove my point.

The first example involves a person wearing gloves that wiped their forehead, followed by a dirty apron, and then touched my food. With my own eyes, I watched as my food was contaminated with sweat, skin bacteria and other debris.  While the argument can be made that heat kills bacteria, it does not apply in this case because my food was already cooked and was about to be served. I did not stand for it and refused to pay for a meal that was not prepared properly.

The second example involves a person who used the same gloves to stock supplies and to handle my food. I personally believe that gloves should be changed when preparing each meal, for after all, in the medical field, you don’t see nurses using the same gloves to treat every one of their patients.

The overall point I’m trying to make is that gloves can only be useful if they are used correctly. For after all, if gloves are used incorrectly, that defeats their purpose and you might as well use your bare hands. And if that’s the case, we are wasting money and time until staffs are trained properly and adhere to the proper usage. It is truly important for everyone to pay attention to proper sanitation, since the spread of bacteria and illnesses concerns everyone, and is a common courtesy.

R.F. Miller

Senior center is desperately needed

To the editor:

My hat went off to M. Louise Horst on Sunday, Oct. 30, for her informative letter in response to one published Oct. 7. My question to the writer of the first letter is this: “How many times have you visited our temporary center?”

I was homebound for a couple of years due to a serious illness that resulted in the sale of my car; hence, I also had no means of transportation. I did volunteer work from my home as a Lung Cancer Alliance Phone Buddy, for which I still participate. I also became active in my church, working out of my home.

The goal I formed in my mind was to try to check out the senior center, and where there is a will, there is a way. I started on my quest to attain transportation to the center in January, four years ago. I contacted an agency that sold public transportation vouchers, available to seniors at a reduced rate, and off to the senior center I went. I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me — and the atmosphere is so positive!

For the early birds, a newspaper is provided, as well as free coffee, hot tea, and hot chocolate — what a super way to start the day! A nutritional lunch is offered daily for only $3. There are more numerous activities than even Mrs. Horst mentioned in her letter, such as exercise classes, a walking club, piano lessons, beading, painting, knitting and crochet classes, and line-dancing instruction. We not only can learn how to stay fit there, but it’s an excellent way for us to keep abreast of events outside of our little worlds at home.

This is just a brief synopsis of what the senior center has to offer. I urge all seniors 55 and older to come to our center. We are increasing in numbers every day and unfortunately are outgrowing our space. We need our own senior center desperately.

P.M. Cross

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