What’s Next for the Charitable Deduction

“The traditions of giving, volunteering and not-for-profit initiative are among the glories of American life. They are what make us unique. If we lose them we shall have lost a priceless and irreplaceable element in our national life.”

– John W. Gardner

Since its inception, Independent Sector has remained steadfast in its resolve to preserve and protect the charitable deduction. This unique provision in our tax code unlocks limitless potential for the charitable sector and the communities we serve and represent.

Independent Sector wants to let you know that this year, we plan to take that a step further.

We are asking policymakers to go beyond just protecting the charitable tax deduction by expanding it. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the charitable deduction, and for most of that time, this uniquely American tradition has only been available to people who itemize their taxes. We are urging policymakers to expand that benefit to 100 percent of all American taxpayers.

In the last 100 years, Americans have donated billions of dollars to their communities. With these dollars, charitable organizations provide educational and economic opportunities for families in need; assist victims of disaster; enhance culture and faith of individuals and communities; facilitate scientific advances; protect the environment and improve the natural world; and foster worldwide appreciation for the democratic values of justice and individual liberty that are vital to the American character.

This is not the time to slow down this work. As we move forward with new leadership in Congress and in the White House, it is more important than ever to understand some things about the charitable deduction.

  • The Charitable Deduction Encourages More Giving
    While Americans give to charitable organizations for many reasons, studies show that tax policy greatly influences when donations are made and leads to more and bigger gifts. In fact, 20 percent of annual online giving occurs on December 30 and 31, indicating that people want to give to take advantage of the tax incentive.
  • The Charitable Deduction is a Good Investment
    According to the Charitable Giving Coalition, for every $1 a donor gets in tax relief, the public typically receives $3 of benefit. No other tax provision generates that kind of positive public impact.
  • Americans Support Expanding the Charitable Deduction
    In 2016, a bipartisan poll of American voters found that 88 percent of people supported making it easier for taxpayers to deduct their charitable contributions. It also found that 79 percent of voters believed every taxpayer should be allowed to deduct his or her charitable contributions, not just those who itemize their taxes. You can learn more about this polling work in IS’ United for Charity report.

If we have a chance to expand this powerful incentive for giving to do even more good, then we must do everything we can to make that happen.

Over the next several weeks, Independent Sector is working on a targeted public policy approach with Congress and the Administration. We’ll be looking to you — whether you work, volunteer, or support a nonprofit, foundation, or any organization committed to improving the common good – to join us and add your voice. We’re calling this campaign Giving100 and we’ll have much more information in the coming week. To start, we’re asking for you to help us build our collective relationships with key policymakers. Learn more about how you can help.

Let’s get to work.

Dan Cardinali is the president and CEO of Independent Sector. 

Types: Blog, Policy Update
Global Topics: Administration, Congress, IS Staff, Public Policy
Policy Issues: Charitable Deduction, Charitable Giving, Federal Budget & Fiscal Policy, Tax & Fiscal Policy, Tax Reform