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Forum Position: Incentivize Giving By All Americans

Friday, May 12, 2017

The United Philanthropy Forum supports the charitable deduction being available to all taxpayers to incentivize giving by every American

We are concerned about the impact recent tax reform proposals would have upon charitable giving. Although current proposals would preserve the charitable deduction in its current state, most proposals would weaken the impact of the charitable deduction to incentivize giving and result in significant decreases in giving.

The Forum represents 60 regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations that collectively comprise more than 7,000 charitable foundations and other grantmaking organizations across the country. The philanthropic capacity of our members and that of current individual charitable givers would be reduced by the proposed tax changes. We therefore urge all policymakers to support a standard charitable deduction that is available to all taxpayers.  

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Forum Statement on Universal Charitable Giving Act of 2017

Congress continues to discuss reforming the U.S. tax code, including changes that would impact charitable giving. The most recent development is a tax reform proposal dealing with the charitable deduction. Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC-6) has introduced a bill, H.R. 3398 that would make the charitable deduction available to all taxpayers. 

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

“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.”

Please contact the Forum's Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Maggie Osborn (202-386-6426) with any questions.

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