What’s your opinion on the charitable deduction?

fiscal_cliff_ahead_pageAlthough this month’s “Fiscal Cliff” legislation retained the charitable deduction, the question of eliminating or restricting it has by no means been decided. Nor are opinions in the sector about the issue unanimous. We reprinted differing opinions from two respected organizations, Independent Sector and the Nonprofit Quarterly, in our newsletter: http://www.guidestar.org/rxa/news/articles/2013/charitable-deductions-debate.aspx.

What say you?

Do you agree with one of the stated opinions? Disagree? Why or why not? Inquiring minds want to know!

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9 responses to “What’s your opinion on the charitable deduction?

  1. My family takes the itemized charitable deduction and give faithfully to non-profits helping others. I also work for and volunteer for non-profits. From what I’ve heard, a high percentage of Americans want the national deficit and debt addressed. That will come with choices, changes, and cuts. We’ve got to back those that are trying to address the bigger problem and get this country back to being fiscally responsible as our own households should be. K Maynard, MO


  2. Andy Robinson’s “In Defense of Taxes” from Nonprofit Quarterly says that the government isn’t “them”; it is us. He’s right. So, we need to take control by sending a clear message to our President and members of Congress.
    The purpose of the U.S. Government according to the Constitution is to perform six fundamental functions:
    1. To Form a More Perfect Union
    2. To Establish Justice
    3. To Provide for the Common Defense
    4. To Secure the Blessings of Liberty
    5. To Insure Domestic Tranquility
    6. To Promote the General Welfare – To “promote” the general welfare does’t mean to “provide” welfare. It means to contribute to the public good with regulations that advance health and food standards, education and consumer protection.
    Since we have allowed politicians to expand the scope of the Federal Government so far beyond these founding principles, we’re paying taxes to support an incredibly wasteful infrastructure that doesn’t remotely resemble what it was designed to be.
    So, before we support paying MORE and potentially cutting the heart out of not-for-profits that provide services far more cost-efficiently than any government ever has, why wouldn’t we demand that our legislators start trimming the fat off the bloated carcass that they have created?


  3. I appreciate the itemized charitable deduction because my wife and I like to give back to the community but we are also very judicious to whom we give our hard earned money. So, I research the charities and only donate to those that keep their admin costs low. In general, these charities do a much better job of providing services to those who need them than a government-run agency. Therefore, I hope we always have this deduction.


  4. Of the one third that claim deductions, I would be quite sure that they are big givers. The ones that keep our local homeless shelters, food pantrys etc open. It helps local communities, and people, to be free to do what needs to be done. With govt. handouts come too many regulations. I have worked in non profits for years..unpaid….and I see the donations and know that people continue to give when they have a stake in the outcome. This is people helping people, not govt. deciding if those people will be helped. I am so proud of our community and the support poured out in big…and little amounts.
    Gov’t doesn’t need to curtail charitable deductions. It needs to cut waste and fraud out of government programs.


  5. How do you know that 70% of American households make contributions? It is not like the statement that 80% of taxpayers that itemize make contributions, which can be observed from the tax returns filed. Where can you observe the 70% of American households making contributions. The 70% is not empirical evidence as no basis exists to observe.


  6. Allan, the best data comes from Giving USA and the National Center for Charitable Statistics. The have pretty sophisticated models for generating these numbers — Giving USA has been produced for about 50 years.


  7. Big thanks to Kathy Maynard, James Cotterill, Bill Corrigan, Joan d. Hogan, Allan Parker, and Andy Robinson for providing comments. It sounds like people are really on both sides of the debate. If we haven’t heard from you and you have something to say, please let us know in the comments!


  8. A little late to the plate but here’s my conclusion: It seems to me that the defender of taxes is looking at the average depth of the river while the defender of charities is pointing out that the depth is not uniform and the bottom is uneven. Two statistics jump out at me: 1) approximately ¼ of all taxpayers contribute more than 76% of all individual contributions and 2) the 3:1 leverage that charitable deductions have on charitable services. Reducing the incentive to give can take away a lot more from the beneficiaries than the government gains in tax revenues. Hence, unintended consequences.

    The defender of taxes introduces a red herring argument about the demonization of government and the culture of tax avoidance. Neither is the basis for the non-profit argument that, particularly in these times of economic stress, reducing dependence on government safety net programs by keeping the charities whole makes a lot of sense.

    htl 2/8/13


  9. After reading the two sides it was hard to make a decision on where I stood because both sides provided statistics that fit there point of view so it left me wondering- how do you fallow statistics when it seems you can find statistics to support negatives and positives of both positioning.
    I saw a bigger social issue at hand and its really, should “giving back” to your communities truly be out of the goodness of ones own heart?
    The articles talked a lot about “incentives” for doing good. Since when has been “doing good” or “doing the right thing” been attached to the word incentive. For me, the basis of doing something good for someone else has never been attached to – what am I going to get out of this?
    The article talks about how in 2009 the government provided extensions on certain tax deductions made to Haiti after the earthquake. The article also mentioned how the government provided same tax break extensions for donations made after the 2004 Tsunami and it left me thinking- did we as Americans REALLY not care enough about these countries that the only reason why some of us chose to donate money was because of tax breaks and isn’t that the opposite of how we as Americans say we think and act.
    The flip side to this is there is def power in the word “incentive”. We have incentives in ALL areas of our life. Incentives at work, incentives at school, incentives that drive us to do a better job. Even in relationships there are incentives involved that drive us to be better partners.
    However the issue of giving to people in need is a moral and ethical issue, and for America we pride ourselves in things like this, but these articles left me thinking is America a country of incentives? Seems like we as a country, as a society as individual people view incentives as a driving force.
    Despite tax breaks if I am passionate about a issue I will give back in whatever way I can and to me that is the morally correct thing to do and the “American way”.


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