How You Can Help Yourself and the Parks Conservancy

A monarch butterfly in nature.

March 31, 2020

As I write this, our world is changing by the hour. Most of you are sheltering in place or at the least practicing social distancing. You may be working remotely or not working at all. You may be caring for young children, young adults who have moved back from college, or older or ailing friends and family.

While many of our park sites, parking lots and visitor services are closed, there still are open spaces throughout our communities that hopefully you can still access with the proper social distancing. Just last week, my husband, our son back from college, and I went for a walk near our home in San Francisco, wandering up and down the steep hills, taking zigzag paths and hidden stairways connecting our neighborhood streets with small parks and community gardens. At one point on our walk, a cloudburst forced us to take shelter under a row of trees, and we allowed ourselves to take deep breaths and enjoy the sound and feel of the short-lived rain, a rare commodity in California in recent years. I am grateful for the role nature plays in my family’s lives.

Last week, in a first effort to provide relief to individuals and businesses, including nonprofit organizations such as the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, Congress passed the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the president signed it into law. I have heard from some Parks Conservancy members and volunteers who want to know how they can help the organization continue to meet its mission, so I have created this summary of pertinent provisions of the CARES Act to help you as you consider the best way and the best time for your continued support. While this is not to be construed as advice, you are welcome to contact me with questions any time.

✓ The law allows an above-the-line income tax charitable deduction up to $300 ($600 for a married couple) even if you don’t itemize your 2020 income tax return. The tax break is available to people who claim the standard deduction, which is $12,400 for singles or $24,800 for married-filing jointly in 2020. This provision was inserted specifically to encourage charitable giving this year.

✓ The CARES Act impacts owners of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) by providing a temporary waiver of Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) for 2020, allowing IRA owners age 72 and older to keep funds in their IRAs and other qualified retirement plans. The decreased value of their portfolios may motivate some people to keep funds in their accounts temporarily, waiting to see what happens in the investment markets. You may still make direct distributions to charity from your IRA, just as before, if it makes financial sense for you to do so.

✓ For the 2020 tax year only, donors may elect to apply a 100% of adjusted gross income (AGI) limit to cash gifts to public charities. Gifts to donor advised funds (DAFs) don’t qualify. This means that in 2020, a donor who deducts 30% of AGI in long term appreciated property gifts and elects the 100% of AGI limit for qualified cash contributions will be able to also deduct up to 70% of AGI for qualified cash gifts, a total deduction of up to 100% of AGI. If this donor uses all available deduction for qualified cash gifts, that donor will pay no federal income tax in 2020.

✓ If you’re thinking of updating your estate plan, please consider including a gift to Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

In the meantime, thank you for caring and please stay in touch with us. Feel free to reach out to me with questions about our programming and plans, to discuss those things we do that are of most interest to you. I’ll be glad for your company.

Stay healthy and hopeful,

Audrey L. Yee, Esq.

Director, Legacy Giving

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