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Republican tax plan could reduce charitable giving by $20 billion

There’s just no end to the ways the Republican tax bill will make America a worse place to be. Patrick Rooney:

As an economist and a scholar of philanthropy who researches how public policies shape charitable giving, I have been following the pending tax proposals closely and examining their potential impact. My research suggests that the proposed changes could lead Americans and U.S. companies to donate roughly US$20 billion less per year to charity.

This is largely an accidental effect, like so many other implications of the secretive, hastily-scribbled “plan.” While the numbers are still up in the air because the House and Senate versions of the tax plan still need to be merged together—and that effort, in turn, must again be passed by both bodies—the tally is in the billions due to multiple changes in the tax code that will slice the tax rewards for charitable giving. Cutting the top tax rate and hiking the standard deduction for taxpayers does the most damage.

Research I co-led showed that such changes, based on an earlier version of the tax plan, would reduce household charitable giving by $13.1 billion per year. That would mark a 4.6 percent decline from the $282 billion American households gave in 2016.

Most of the rest comes from cuts to the estate tax. The estate tax only applies to wealthy households, and for the households that are subject to it, the rewards for charitable giving are generous: Every dollar you donate reduces your tax bill by that same dollar. Rooney estimates that doing away with the estate tax, as written in the House bill, will cut charitable donations by $7 billion a year.

While most of us like to flatter ourselves into believing America is a charitable nation, and indeed conservatives are forever espousing the opinion that charity should be the only avenue for helping the poor, the sick, or the elderly rather than collecting tax money for the government to do those things, the truth is that we have written charitable giving incentives into our tax code because without such breaks a great many Americans would not bother. As we strip the rewards for doing so back out of the tax code, that giving will be reduced.

The GOP Tax Scam is a “working definition of a tax boondoggle” for banks, big oil, developers—and it still needs to pass both houses of Congress before it becomes law.  Call your members of the House AGAIN TODAY at (202) 224-3121, and tell them you are absolutely furious and they must vote NO.

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