Sarah Ford | November 21, 2013

Protecting Charitable Deduction

Source: The NonProfit Times, by Paul Clolery

The NonProfit Times: Lawmakers Get Earful On Protecting Charitable DeductionTwo United States senators have drafted a letter to their leadership to save the charitable deduction at its current levels. The letter was unveiled today in Washington, D.C., during “Protect Giving Day.”

The bi-partisan support of Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), both members of the Senate Finance Committee that oversees tax policy, warned in the letter that any limitations to the charitable tax deduction would have consequences. It is being circulated for additional signatures from other senators.

An estimated 200 representatives from the 140 nonprofit organizations were on Capitol Hill in support of the charitable tax deduction, which has been a target of those seeking to add revenue to the federal coffers, said Sandra Swirski, executive director of the Alliance for Charitable Reform in Washington, D.C.

“We write to you to underscore the importance of protecting the full value and scope of the charitable deduction during a comprehensive rewrite of the tax code,” according to text of the letter. “Analysis has repeatedly shown that proposals to cut, cap, or limit the charitable deduction could cause charitable donations to decline by billions of dollars annually. Worse yet, weakening the charitable deduction would most hurt the adults and children who receive vital charitable services from organizations like soup kitchens, after-school programs, and medical research projects, just to name a few.

“In many cases, the government would be required to step in and fund those services now being provided through private generosity,” the letter continued. “Accordingly, preserving the charitable deduction is also prudent as a matter of broader fiscal policy. We believe the federal government must affirm its long-standing dedication to encouraging private acts of charity and compassion, especially when our charities and the people they serve are facing so many challenges.”

Swirski said she is hopeful that a similar letter will be drafted on the House side.

The coalition is encouraged by the senators’ emphasis on the fact that the charitable deduction is not about the donors, but what donors’ dollars do to support worthy causes in America’s communities. The statement of support represents an important reframing of the issue to reflect the value and impact of the charitable deduction outside the beltway, she said.

“America has a remarkable tradition of giving back. It is a reflection of our society’s values,” said Father Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. “Our communities need policies that help encourage charitable giving, not discourage support of our neighbors in need.”

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