Adult Deferred Per Capita Program Offers Financial Benefits

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The deadline for the Adult Deferred Per Capita Program is approaching quickly, September 30 for the 2023 calendar year, so don’t miss your opportunity to save money and reduce your taxable income. The Adult Deferred Per Capita Program applies to two demographics: Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community adults who receive per capita and minors who will be receiving their trust monies. 

In 2018, the program was instituted to help adult Community members and minors who have a trust fund to defer their per capita and trust fund monies to a later date. 

“Deferring your minors trust or per capita is not a retirement plan or a 401k program, but it kind of works similarly. Any amounts that you put into the program are not taxable,” said Treasurer’s Office Trust and Investments Manager Kevin Stevenson. “For example, say per capita is $10,000 next year and you decide to defer some of that. You have the option to defer by a percentage or a fixed dollar amount, such as $250 per quarter, for a minimum of two years.”

Your taxable income is reduced by the amount you defer, meaning you will pay less in income taxes. So, according to the IRS, next year instead of reporting $10,000 of per capita income you would report $5,000 if you defer by 50%. The amount that you defer goes into the program and you have options for investing it. There are five different investment portfolios you can choose from; they range from zero risk (for someone who doesn’t want to lose their money and earn just a little bit of interest) to more aggressive risk, explained Stevenson. 

“This is the Community’s program, but we entrust Providence First Trust to administer it,” said Stevenson. “If there is a Community member who is interested in participating, they call Providence First Trust Company and set up an appointment to talk about investment options—what is a conservative investment, what is an aggressive investment, what might be good for me—and they go over all the rules and see if it’s a good fit.”

This program has to meet IRS standards. “We try to make the program as flexible as possible but fall within their guidelines,” explained Stevenson. 

When you elect to defer some of your per capita income, you are stuck with that election, said Stevenson. “For example, say you deferred 50% of your per capita income by September 30, 2022. Everything is going well, but in March of next year you have an emergency and need funds. Can you go in and change the amount you deferred and get access to that money? No, you cannot. It’s pretty strict. There are some opportunities to get out of it, but they are for extreme events such as a house flood or medical bills. They will not let you get out of or change your program if you are experiencing a job loss or if your vehicle is broken down.”

Stevenson recommends that everyone set aside some money to get you through emergencies. If you decide to defer, do the minimum two years and continue to defer every two years until you need the money. 

Community members who have discretionary income and those who use per capita for savings are most likely to benefit from this program. It’s a way to reduce taxable income and invest the deferred funds. However, if you rely on per capita income for everyday living expenses, the program is not a good idea for you.

Other Community members who might benefit are those who want to apply for financial assistance but their income is just over the threshold to qualify. They could use this program to reduce their income enough for them to qualify for those benefits. 

“As for the minors trust, that’s probably the biggest opportunity of the program and that is where most of the growth of the program is occurring,” Stevenson said. “The youth get their money at 18, 19, 20 and 21 years old, and the trust defines how much they get based on their GED or finishing their schooling. These are forced distributions, but many youth don’t want to take all of it. For example, they may not need to use the money, or they aren’t ready for it. This program allows minors to defer those trust funds to a later date, keeping them from going into a higher tax bracket.”

Participation in the deferral program has been growing each year. To participate in the Adult Deferred Per Capita Program, call Providence First Trust at (602) 952-2300 or email srpmic@providencefirst.com and set up an appointment quickly. Everything needs to be in place by September 30 for your plan to go into effect for the calendar year of 2023. For the minors trust deferral, a minor must sign up six months prior to their 19th birthday and 12 months prior to their 20th and 21st birthdays. For more information, contact Stevenson at (480) 362-2704.

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