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November 6, 1986     The Jewish Transcript
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November 6, 1986

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Taxpayer alert: Donors urged to give now to 1987 Campaign Pay your Campaign pledge now. That's the advice emanating from Federation's accounting staff these days regarding contributions to the 1987 Federa- tion/United Jewish Appeal Campaign. Why? Because under the provisions of the newly passed Tax Reform Act of 1986, tax savings associated with charitable con- tributions are going to be reduced for most people starting next year. The bottom line, in accountant ter- minology, is this: If you pay your pledge to the 1987 Campaign now -- rather than waiting until next year -- you're most likely going to wind up with more money in your pocket after taxes. Kenneth Rudee, Federation's chief finan- cial officer, explained that under the new tax laws, tax brackets during the next two years are going to be reduced from their current maximum of 50 percent for high in- come taxpayers to 28 percent. "What that means," Rudee said, "is that instead of the government kicking in up to 50 percent (in tax savings) of a charitable contribution, they're only going to kick in up to 28 percent after 1987." By making contributions to the 1987 Campaign before the end of the year, Rudee said, people can take advantage of savings from this year's higher tax brackets before they expire Dec. 3 I. Rudee explained that another major change under the new tax law will impact charitible gifts of appreciable capital gains property, such as stocks, bonds and real estate. As under current law, he said, such gifts in 1987 and beyond generally will continue to be permitted to be deducted on taxes on the basis of their full appreciated value. For example, he said, someone who acquired personal property for $1,000 in the past that has appreciated to $2,000 will continue to be allowed to deduct $2,000 under charitable contributions on his or her taxes. But there's a catch. Rudee explained that under the tax law going into effect next year, deductions for the appreciated value of such gifts for the first time will be treated as "tax preference items." And that, he said, means that the IRS will be able to use the appreciated value of the gifts in calculating a special "add- on" tax called the "alternative minimum tax." "Once again," Rudee said, "the bottom line is that beginning Jan. 1, most taxpayers making gifts of appreciable property are going to realize fewer tax savings associated with those gifts. And that gives all the more reason for persons to consider making this type of gift now as opposed to next year." The new tax law, Rudee said, is "loaded with additional changes" that will impact many taxpayers. For example, he said per- sons who do not itemize their deductions will no longer be able to make a deduction for charitable contributions. However, because finances vary greatly from taxpayer to taxpayer, Rudee said, the new tax laws will impact each individual and family in a different way. Consequent- ly, he recommended that people consult their accountants in the near future about how best to respond to tax code changes. How will the new tax laws impact giving to Federation's Campaign in future years? "Overall, very little," Rudee predicted. "You have to realize that the primary reason Jews give to the Campaign is that they want to help other Jews, not because they're out to save on taxes. "Jews have always realized that in the end, if we don't act to take care of ourselves, who will?" he said. "We've been taught to give because it's the moral and right thing to do." Rudee acknowledged that tax savings associated with charitable gifts will be reduced for most people in future years. However, he said this will be offset in many cases by lower tax brackets which will give taxpayers more disposable income from which to make charitable contributions. Richard Fruchter, Federation's assistant executive vice president and Campaign director, agreed that the new tax laws will have little impact on community giving to the annual Campaign. "People give, for the most part, because they wantto give," he said. "And 1 can tell you from experience that they do it from the heart -- because they care about the welfare and future of the Jewish people." In support of his point, Fruchter noted that in foreign countries where no tax deductions whatsoever are allowed for charitable contributions, Jews continue to give generous sums, often at levels well in excess of their Jewish American counter- parts. [] Telephone contact made with Soviet refusenik by Kent Swigard The telephone line, amplified over speakers, crackled to life. Then came a voice, speaking in Hebrew from a post of- fice thousands of miles away. The more than 120 Jewish Day School students in at- tendance grew uncharacteristically quiet. Soviet refusenik Alexander Kogan was on the line. Such was the scene recently at the Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle as Michele Stern, a teacher at the school, com- pleted a prearranged telephone call with Kogan. Kogan, a Hebrew teacher living in the Soviet city of Kishinev, was waiting to receive the call at a Soviet post office. The call had been arranged by Stern in the wake of her having recently visited Kogan and other refuseniks in the Soviet Union. "l want to leave the Soviet Union to live in Israel but the authorities will not permit me to do so," Kogan said. His words were translated into English as he spoke for the benefit of the children. Kogan, a computer engineer and pro- grammer, went on to describe how, since first applying for a visa to leave the Soviet Union seven years ago, he has been forced to work at menial jobs. "And to harass me," he said, "they force me to work on Shabbat." Kogan added that in recent years he has been pressured by the KGB to stop teaching Torah and Hebrew. He said his home has been searched by Soviet authorities who confiscated his Hebrew Bible and biblical commentaries, claiming that they are "anti- Soviet literature." Because one of Kogan's friends, Alex- ander Kholmiansky, was recently arrested for teaching Hebrew in Moscow, Kogan said he is concerned that he too soon may be arrested. How did the children respond? ........ Michele Stern makes telephone contact with Soviet rcfusenik. They sang. As' Stern held up the telephone receiver for Kogan to hear, they loudly voiced the lyrics to several Hebrew songs, including Israel's national anthem. Kogan, however, was cut off in the midst of the music. An international operator ex- plained that a Soviet operator had cut Kogan off because "he had gotten out of line." "1 just hope he wasn't carted off by the KGB," Judy Balint, president of Federa- tion's Seattle Action for Soviet Jewry, said. "We may not be able to find out precisely what happened for some time." On a more positive note, Balint said the telephone call to Kogan has helped set the stage for this year's Women's Plea for Soviet Jewry Concert. The event, spon- sored by Federation's Community Rela- tions Council and the Seattle Chaptei of Hadassah, is slated for 8 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. This year's featured artist is Geula Gill, a dynamic Israeli singer who has visited the Soviet Union and created a unique musical program based on her experiences there. Patron tickets for the event are for sale for $86.10, symbolic of the low number of 861 Jews allowed to emigrate from the Soviet Union in 1984, a 15-year low. Non-patron tickets are for sale for $18 and $10, $8 for seniors and students. Con- cert sponsors said persons interested in at- tending should contact the Federation at 622-821 I. Organizers said funds raised at this year's concert will be used to subsidize trips to the USSR for the purpose of visiting refuseniks and to fund local Soviet Jewry program- ming. Persons buying patron tickets will be listed on the program and Will be invited to attend a post-concert reception along with Geula Gill and other prominent guests. Persons who already have purchased patron tickets and who are soliciting others to do the same include Barbara Rosenberg, Patricia Wolfstone, Judith Ross, Frances Rogers, Elaine .Krom, Laurie Boguch, AIthea Stroum, Bobbie Stern, Lucy Pruzan, Frankie Loeb, Paula Rose, Esther Schoenfeid, Louis Mayers and Jeri Lynn Rice. 71 Jewish Federation. of Greater Seattle  " - :, - :,. The Jewish Transcript Page 11