The PF excise tax provision would collapse the current two-tier tax—some pay 2 percent and some pay 1 percent on investment income—to a straight 1 percent tax. Here’s how it goes. PFs are required to pay a 2 percent excise tax on investment income every year. However, that excise tax is reduced to 1 percent if a PF’s grants exceed the average amount of its grants in the previous five years (the five-year average). So if a PF’s giving grows over time, it will likely qualify to pay a 1 percent excise tax, rather than 2 percent.But if a PF makes an extraordinary grant in one particular year, for natural disaster relief for example, that grant skews the five-year average to a much higher amount. So, if that PF returns to normal giving levels thereafter, it’s very likely that PF will pay a 2 percent excise tax, so double, for a few years. My PF friends tell me that in practice, PFs are understandably cautious about making that extraordinary gift (even in desperate times) because they very well may be penalized with a doubling of their taxes in following years.Plenty of members of Congress wince when they hear that dose of reality. “What an unintended consequence,” we hear.
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