Thursday, July 25, 2013

CMA lobbies senators to protect charitable gift tax deduction

Excerpted from "Religious Charities Ask Congress To Save Charitable Deduction in Tax Overhaul," The Chronicle of Philanthropy, July 22, 2013 -- Members of a newly formed coalition of religious charities visited Capitol Hill last week to persuade members of the Senate to back the charitable deduction as they draft recommendations for a massive federal tax overhaul that must be submitted by Friday. In a face-to-face meeting, members of the new Faith and Giving Coalition told lawmakers—including Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican—that the charitable deduction meets that three-pronged standard.

“We feel it’s important that [Congressional] members hear from the faith-based community because of the importance of private giving to what we do,” said Steven Woolf, senior tax policy counsel at the Jewish Federations of North America.

The coalition was formed two months ago by John Ashmen, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, and the National Christian Foundation. Its members include such groups as the National Association of Evangelicals, Salvation Army and World Vision. Jonathan Imbody, vice president for government relations with the Christian Medical Association, said his organization had not previously lobbied to protect the charitable deduction. But the approach taken by Sen. Max Baucus and Mr. Hatch spurred his group to join the coalition.

“When you read the letter that says they’re starting with a blank slate,” Mr. Imbody said, “that’s enough to get you going. If you want something included you’d better speak up.”

President Obama has failed in repeated efforts since 2009 to impose a 28 percent limit on the value of itemized deductions for such expenses as mortgage interest, state and local taxes and gifts to charities as a way to help tame the federal budget deficit. Non-profit advocates say the proposal could reduce donations by as much as $9 billion annually.

Obama administration officials have said that the change would affect single people with incomes of more than $200,000 and married couples with incomes above $250,000. Taxpayers with incomes below those levels who do not itemize deductions would not be affected.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA Vice President for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: "Behind closed doors, Members of Congress have been proposing charitable gift deduction cuts that would severely harm giving, charities and those they serve. That's why I joined several colleagues from leading nonprofit organizations last week to meet at the Capitol with four U.S. senators and staff, to urge them not to kill tax breaks for donations to charities--a move that would hurt donors, cripple faith-based charities and deprive those they serve of desperately needed services.

"A person gives from the heart, of course, but tax policies can significantly influence how much donors feel able to give. The charity deduction is unique in that it simply acknowledges that a person is giving away income to help others in need. The charitable gift deduction is not a loophole--it's a lifeline.

"With the self-imposed deadline for Congressional action--i.e., a draft bill by the end of the month--fast approaching, we need to explain clearly and quickly why the proposed cuts to charitable giving would harm millions of Americans. Please visit CMDA's Freedom2Care website now to learn more and take action on this issue that impacts your charitable tax deductions, ministries like CMDA and, most importantly, the millions of individuals served at home and abroad through American charities."

Take Action

Use the easy form at CMDA's Freedom2Care legislative action web page to tell your legislators to protect charitable giving

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