Odell Calls on Putnam Legislature to Mull Charitable Trusts

CARMEL, NY – Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell is asking the Putnam County Legislature to consider whether the use of charitable trusts would be advantageous to residents after
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation related to the fiscal year 2019 NYS Budget, which offers it as an alternative to the traditional tax code for local municipalities and school districts.

“I request that this alternative be brought up for discussion at the next Rules Committee meeting, so that the Legislators can thoroughly vet the charitable trust option and together can determine the best course of action for Putnam County,” said County Executive Odell is a memo send to Leg. Neal Sullivan, chairman of the Rules Committee.

New York State is authorizing local governments to establish charitable gift reserve funds and to offer real property tax credits to incentivize contributions to these new local charitable funds. Under the State Law, such funds may receive unrestricted charitable contributions for the purposes of addressing education, health care, and other charitable purposes. This is an optional program available to counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts. Local governments and school districts may also establish charitable funds.

Putnam’s Commissioner of Finance William Carlin said that he will work with the Legislature to learn more about the charitable trusts that the state is proposing. “We will do our due diligence regarding the charitable trusts, including the fact that we will need to be able to assure our residents that the Internal Revenue Service will permit these deductions,” he said. “Putnam and other counties throughout the State are waiting for IRS guidance on this issue.”

Odell concurs. “The New York State Association of Counties, to which I am its President, released the report “Federal, State, and Local Taxes in New York State,” which provides a breakdown of the income, property, and sales taxes that New Yorker’s pay to which levels of government,” she said. “Before creating these new charity foundations, we need to consider its administrative complexity, how many of our taxpayers will be impacted, and its IRS implications, among other critical issues.”

Leg. Sullivan, who in addition to a County Legislator is a certified public accountant, has agreed to put it on the agenda for the next Rules meeting, but is not optimistic about the legislation. “It seems like a scam put through by the State to try to help people avoid paying Federal taxes. I do not see the IRS seeing these are legitimate charities,” he said. “The new tax code helps a lot of seniors and young families by offering a higher standardized deduction. With a larger standardize deduction and overall lower tax rates, it has yet to be determined how many people will be negatively impacted. There is more research that needs to be done about the effects of the Federal Tax Code and the State Legislation.”

Legislator Joseph Castellano, Chairman of the Putnam County Legislature is committed to finding answers before jumping to unfounded conclusions. “There are two things people don’t like change and taxes,” he said. “The Putnam County Legislature looks forward to working with the Odell administration and learning more about the various scenarios and determining the best remedies for Putnam County residents.”

The discussion on charitable trusts will be on the agenda for the May Rules Committee meeting, which will be held on Monday, May 14th in Room 318 of the Putnam County Office Building, 40 Gleneida Road, Carmel, NY 10512.