In The News…

Big giving, the Gates way

This February Microsoft CEO Bill Gates made the largest charitable gift ever–$3.35 billion. The money was given to his two charitable foundations, the William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation.

Gates has been criticized by some for not sharing enough of his wealth with philanthropic causes. With this gift believed to be the largest gift ever made, the world’s richest man also becomes the world’s largest single-gift donor. With assets over $80 billion, the majority of which he plans to give away, Gates may well become the biggest dollar donor in history.

Source: Fortune, March 1, 1999

Proposed bill would curb split-dollar plans

A controversial charitable giving technique known as a “split-dollar” insurance has come under fire. There are currently two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at stopping charities from participating in such arrangements.

In a split-dollar plan, a charity and a donor split the economic benefits of a life insurance policy that was purchased with tax-deductible funds. Proponents of the bills argue that split-dollar arrangements are abuses of the charitable contribution deduction and are thinly disguised schemes for avoiding taxes.

One bill suggests financial penalties in the form of heavy excise taxes for any charitable organization that enters into a split-dollar plan. Charitable organizations would also be responsible for reporting to the IRS about the split-dollar arrangements they enter into each year.

Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy, February 9, 1999

Lifelong philanthropist bequeaths money, art

When Paul Mellon, the philanthropist son of industrialist Andrew Mellon, died in February, he left behind large bequests for charity: $75 million and over 100 works of art to the National Gallery of Art, $75 million and over 130 works of art to his alma mater Yale University, $20 million to Carnegie Mellon University, $10 million and over 50 artworks to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and $10 million to his prep school Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. Mellon left $5 million and $1 million bequests to several other nonprofits, as well as dozens of smaller bequests.

Mellon was a famous yet modest philanthropist during his lifetime. He decided early on to use the fortune he had inherited to further charitable causes. The National Gallery, which his father founded, is filled with some 900 pieces of art he donated over the years. Mellon also established the Yale Center for British Art in 1977.

Mellon’s wife, Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon, was left $110 million and the best of Mellon’s American abstract paintings in his will.

Source: Washington Post, February 11, 1999

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