Protecting the Charitable Deduction

David Moltz is writer/editor at CASE. 

On Nov. 20, CASE and other members of the Charitable Giving Coalition encouraged members of Congress to preserve and protect the charitable deduction during their second annual Capitol Hill Advocacy Day.

Timothy E. Leshan, vice president for government relations at Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., was one of the CASE members who met with lawmakers alongside representatives from other charitable organizations to discuss the importance of the charitable deduction.

“We at Northeastern think it’s really important to make the case for the charitable tax deduction because it’s just vital for us to make sure that we maintain the kind of investment we’ve seen from our donors,” he said. “And we’re really worried that if it goes away that it’s going to have a detrimental impact on those kinds of donations that we’ve seen.”

Leshan met with Congressmen Richard Neal and Jim McGovern from Massachusetts that morning. He added, although members of the congressional delegation from his home state were supportive of the charitable deduction, it was important for them to hear from educational institutions and other nonprofit organizations on this issue.

“It’s vital to have the diversity of advocates and the diversity of organizations to make the case.
Leshan said. “It’s much more powerful than just one sector going in.”

Eric Persons, associate vice president of government and community relations at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., another CASE member participating in the advocacy day, met with a tax adviser to Sen. Kristen Gillibrand from New York that morning. He said she was “very understanding” of the value of the charitable deduction and was a strong supporter of his institution, particularly in some of its initiatives regarding access and affordability.

“Over the last several years, Syracuse University has been a leader in really promoting access and affordability to private education,” Persons said. “And a key part of that process is the role that philanthropy plays and proving scholarships is important to students of middle and low incomes so that they can come to Syracuse and get one of the best educations possible.”

CASE staff including President John Lippincott also participated in the advocacy day.

Also on Nov. 20, Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee that oversees tax policy, urging them to protect the current charitable deduction.

“We write to you to underscore the importance of protecting the full value and scope of the charitable deduction during a comprehensive rewrite of the tax code,” Sens .Thune and Wyden wrote in the letter. “Analysis has repeatedly shown that proposals to cut, cap, or limit the charitable deduction could cause charitable donations to decline by billions of dollars annually… We believe the federal government must affirm its long-standing dedication to encouraging private acts of charity and compassion, especially when our charities and the people they serve are facing so many challenges.”

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