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Forum Issues Statement on Universal Charitable Giving Act

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

David Biemesderfer, President & CEO of United Philanthropy Forum, which is the largest network serving philanthropy in America, issued the following statement on a bill introduced on October 5 by Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC-6) to make the charitable deduction available to all taxpayers:

“United Philanthropy Forum applauds Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC-6) for supporting America’s charitable organizations and the communities they serve. In October, Congressman Walker introduced a bill to provide a charitable contribution deduction for taxpayers who would take the standard deduction. Under current law, taxpayers who itemize their deductions receive a tax incentive for their contributions to qualified charitable organizations, but non-itemizers do not. Congressman Walker’s bill, the Universal Charitable Giving Act (H.R. 3988), would allow taxpayers who take the standard deduction to also deduct their charitable contributions up to an amount equal to one-third of the standard deduction.

United Philanthropy Forum is examining what impact a cap would have on charitable giving in the context of tax reform, but considers Congressman Walker’s bill a good first-step toward providing incentives for charitable giving for those who do not itemize. Moreover, a non-itemizer deduction will become even more critical within the larger tax reform framework. Research indicates that the Republican tax reform plan released in September would result in a loss of more than $13 billion in charitable giving each year, since a proposed expansion of the standard deduction would cause the number of itemizers to drop dramatically to only 5% of taxpayers. In real terms, 30 million taxpayers who itemized in 2016 would no longer have the giving incentive and would be taxed on their charitable gifts.

United Philanthropy Forum believes that a universal charitable deduction is a fair and efficient resolution that will continue to encourage Americans to redirect their dollars to charities. This will ensure that contributions to charities are not taxed by the federal government and that taxpayers who currently take the deduction for their gifts will continue to be incentivized. Making the deduction available to all taxpayers will help strengthen a culture of giving and incentivize younger taxpayers to make charitable investments in the communities and causes they care about.

United Philanthropy Forum will continue to advance the universal charitable deduction as the best solution to the expected loss in giving from the current tax reform proposals. We will continue to work with Congressman Walker and other key lawmakers to develop a bill that incentivizes the most charitable giving in our country and imposes the least possible limitations on that incentive.”

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United Philanthropy Forum is the largest network serving philanthropy in America. The Forum’s membership of 65 regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations, which represent more than 7,000 foundations and other philanthropies, work to advance, inform and support philanthropy. With deep regional roots and a broad nationwide reach, the Forum unites a diverse network to lead change and increase impact in philanthropy. For more information, visit

Jay Hutchins
Associate Director of Policy
(202) 888-6732

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