The charitable tax deduction has been an integral part of the federal income tax system for more than a century. It helps promote giving, secures the independence of civil society, and ensures that citizens are taxed on income they are able to put toward their own benefit and purpose, not funds they freely give away for the benefit of the public.
America’s charities are heavily relied upon to provide basic needs and services to struggling communities, which is why maintaining the full scope and value of the charitable deduction is vital to community success. The Alliance for Charitable Reform continues to urge lawmakers to not only restore the full scope and value of the charitable deduction, but also expand it to include all taxpayers, not just to those who itemize.
Expanding the charitable deduction has become even more important and pressing since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which nearly doubled the standard deduction and reduced the number of itemizers to between 12 and 14 percent of taxpayers, coupled with the already declining numbers of Americans giving to charity.
All Americans Should Have Access to the Charitable Deduction
Under the current system, the charitable deduction is only available to those who itemize their taxes. A universal charitable deduction would expand the charitable giving incentive to all taxpayers by excluding all charitable gifts from taxation. A universal charitable deduction would recognize the gifts from lower- and middle-income givers that often go to our houses of worship and other local charities providing critical services supporting communities across the country. It is a policy that treats all charitable givers the same regardless of income. Additionally, if the deduction were to be available to all, charities would see an overall increase in giving.
The charitable tax deduction is not a subsidy from government to support charity or the giving choices of private individuals. It is a recognition that citizens should not be taxed on money given away to promote the public benefits and that taxing charitable gifts would diminish the vitality, variety, and independence of civil society.
To learn more about ACR’s guiding principles, please click here.