The coffee was warm, the food simple but good, and as always the company exceptional. The group had been having breakfast this way for years. Sometimes there would be more of them, sometimes less; the size of the group on any one day depended on both family and business obligations. Sometimes they got along, sometimes they didn’t. But all shared similar values regarding their families and their communities.
“I’m not sure what to do with that property I picked up 25 years ago. I got it dirt cheap. No one wanted it back then. No one saw what I saw with it,” as a cup of strong coffee was sipped.
“So what’s the problem? We’d all like that kind of problem,” was the retort.
“The problem is I don’t really feel like paying a boat load of taxes if I sell. My kids are pretty successful. And when I die, I still pay a ton of taxes on it,” taking another sip of coffee and unintentionally sharply stabbing at the eggs. Without actually being aware of it, each stab was perfectly coordinated with every utterance of the word “taxes.”
“You’re going to be dead. Who cares? Besides, we all know that you’re too much of a pain in the backside to die. God would find you annoying. The Devil would be concerned you’d take him for all he’s worth,” speaking with the kind of grin associated with good–natured needling. “You’re destined to wander the earth as a ghost making the rest of us miserable, figuring out more ways to make money.”
In addition to the fork stabbing harder at the eggs, this time the knife was used to cut into the eggs. As the eggs were scrambled, it wasn’t really necessary. “You know, there’s a reason your spouse encourages you to get out of the house more often. Anyway, you know how I feel about death and taxes. One I can’t avoid, the other, well, let’s just say, if it’s legal, and there’s a way, I’m all for paying as little as possible.”
While the two continued to entertain the rest of the group, a third chimed in. Though thoroughly enjoying the exchange, and not averse to stirring things up a bit by throwing a little gasoline on the fire, this time the person decided to pass along a nugget of information, even though it may put an end to the entertainment.
“I got three words for you. And they’re not ‘You’re a yutz,’” proving once again that Yiddish has an appropriate word for every occasion. “Try these three words, “Charitable Remainder Trust.’ It allows you to give something to that one charity that still tolerates you, give something back to this community which despite your Grinch–like nature I know you still care about, and most importantly, get an income for the rest of your life and pay less taxes.”
The fork stopped stabbing at the eggs. The knife was put down. A sip was taken from the cup of coffee. “Tell me more about this ‘Charitable Remainder Trust.’”
© Robert Benjamin Johnston December 2015
The beauty of writing your own blog is that one can take some liberty with what one posts. While this is a blog about HBX CORe, this piece I wrote for the Community Foundation of Grundy County’s column for the Morris Herald–News. The article is free to charitable organizations under a creative commons license with appropriate attribution and an appropriate link back to this site and Lochwood Johnston. Further information on charitable remainder trusts can be found on the CFGC’s website.
The painting is by Konstantin Chebotarev. Breakfast in Suuk-Su, 1918 (acrylic on board) by Chebotarev, Konstantin Konstantinovich (1892-1974); 51×72 cm; State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. The painting cannot be used for commercial purposes. Please contact Bridgeman Images for the appropriate commercial license. If the person who has the artist’s copyright would like this image taken down I will be happy to do so without need of a DRM notice.