When Jim enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst he was a small-town kid from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, moving from a high school class of 153 students to a campus of 10,000. He was a little daunted. But, he soon found a home with the cross-country team, as he completed a history degree. Being on the team, "gave me a social connection," he says. "It helped me get more acclimatized to the University."
Then, the roller coaster ride of post-college life happened. Jim kept on track with turning challenges into opportunities. He overcame an injury while on duty in the Vietnam War, spending two months in a Japanese hospital. He returned home and remained in the Army Reserve as he began a long and successful career in sales at Proctor and Gamble and later as an independent sales and marketing consultant.
He retired in 2014 with "a very nice head start on a nest egg," an insurance policy from his 29 years in the Army Reserve and a commitment to philanthropy.
Jim's charitable giving hit a challenge when he turned 70½ years old and was subject to U.S. tax law that requires all Americans who are 70½ or older to take required minimum distributions from their IRAs each year.
When working, Jim was in the 15 percent tax bracket. But once he passed the 70½ mark, "all of a sudden, I was put in the 28 percent tax bracket!"
He preferred charitable giving over paying more taxes. As he studied the issue, he learned about qualified charitable distributions (QCD), which became a permanent part of the tax code in 2015.
QCDs (sometimes referred to as IRA charitable rollover gifts) may lower tax bills by lowering taxable income when required minimum distributions are contributed directly to a nonprofit institution from the IRA administrator.
Jim seized the opportunity. Having given to UMass cross-country for 40 years, he wanted to ramp up his efforts to improve the student athlete experience. In 2016, Jim and his wife made a large gift to renovate the locker room for men's track and field and cross-country athletes—now the Joanne and Jim Parker '67 Locker Room.
Today, he achieves his goals by using QCDs to fulfill his giving and urges other retirees to do so as well. "I'm not dead yet!" he says laughing. "So I get to enjoy this now."
Part of that joy is serving as a fixture at the cross-country meets and helping to improve facilities.
"It's a win-win-win situation."