September 6, 2005

An Outpouring of Support

Financial services organizations and firms step up to the plate

In addition to the relief services being provided by local, state, and federal government officials and agencies to those affected by Hurricane Katrina, financial services organizations, companies, and individuals are pitching in as well.

For instance, the Financial Planning Association announced September 1 that it had established an easy way for its members to contribute cash to the American Red Cross's relief effort through the Red Cross Web site at

https://www.redcross.org/donate/MMRedir.ASP?CID=HUR-FPA.

FPA President Jim Barnash sent a letter to members on August 31 encouraging them to help in the efforts and noted that "through its National Financial Planning Support Center and its partnership with the Foundation for Financial Planning, FPA will continue to assess ways to meet the needs of our members and others in stricken areas, including those who fled the storm." Last year, FPA announced an alliance with the Red Cross to provide assistance, including pro bono planning, during times of disaster, as it did following the terror attacks of 9/11.

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) sponsored a Webinar featuring TD Bank Financial's chief economist, Donald Drummond, on September 6. To listen in, NAPFA members were asked to make a donation to the hurrican relief effort.

In other notable actions, TD Bank said it had committed $250,000 to support the cleanup and relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina through the Red Cross. Raymond James Financial said it has donated a combined total of $200,000 to the relief efforts of the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army, and Raymond James President Chet Helck said the firm is encouraging its employees and affiliated advisors to contribute as well. MassMutual Financial Group is also donating $250,000 to the American Red Cross, and said it had expanded its employee charitable donation match program to include donations to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army over the next 60 days--for every $1 donated, MassMutual will match that gift with $2.

Also, Thrivent Financial, the nonprofit faith-based financial services organization, said it had committed $100 million over four years to its Thrivent Builds alliance with Habitat for Humanity, earmarking $5 million of that total to help rebuild homes in the Gulf Coast area.

Various agencies of the Federal Government are making accommodations for those living and working in the Gulf Coast. The IRS has extended the September tax filing and payment deadlines until October 31 for those areas ravaged by Katrina, which includes 31 parishes in Louisiana, 15 counties in Mississippi, three counties in Alabama, and some parts of Florida. The tax relief includes the September 15 due date for estimated taxes and for calendar-year corporate returns with automatic extensions. The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced September 2 the they will waive rules that prohibit owners of low-income housing from providing housing to victims of Katrina who do not qualify as low-income. The action is designed to expand the availability of housing for disaster victims and their families.

The IRS has also set up a toll-free disaster hotline, 866-562-5227, for people to call to get information about tax relief and to get free copies of their tax return transcripts. The IRS has partnered with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) to provide taxpayer assistance at disaster relief centers set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA has a comprehensive list of organizations accepting cash donations and offers of volunteer help for hurricane victims at http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=18473.

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