horsesIn the mid 1950's, Nathaniel Usher found himself widowed, childless, and the owner of a 1000-acre farm near Dayton. To Mr. Usher, the income Whitman College would pay him if he gave the farm to the college combined with the tax benefits, were far more valuable than his income from the farm.

Usher had no personal connection to Whitman, but for a number of years he had a business relationship with Clarence Braden, chairman of the college Farm Committee. Braden owned a local Caterpillar dealership, and in those days he still took horses and mules as trade-ins for new tractors. Usher, a horse dealer, would often purchase Braden's trade-ins. Braden explained the benefits of a gift to Whitman, and Usher didn't need much convincing.

Usher gave his 1000-acre farm to the college, and retained the income from the farm until death. Dick Young, who had farmed it as Usher's tenant since the 1930s, continued to farm it for Whitman. His son, George Young, continued to farm the land for Whitman after his father.

A lot has changed since the 1950s, but the tax laws governing the benefits of making a gift of farm land to Whitman College remain almost unchanged. A farmland owner who gives property to the college can retain income from the farm for the rest of his or her life, qualify for a charitable deduction, and, because of the charitable nature of the transaction, avoid capital gains tax.

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