01 March 2017

Guiding Principles for Tax Reform

Policymakers from all political parties and ideological spectrum recognize that charitable giving is central to American life, both through the act of giving and the gift received. The ideals of personal sacrifice and giving of oneself for the benefit of others are fundamental to the fabric of our society. We have always been a country of voluntary associations that come forward and unite to solve common problems. Leaders throughout history have reinforced these tenets.

ACR embraces these core values and engages on public policy issues that may impact them. We believe in the power of private giving, and we believe that a vibrant private sector generates the resources that make philanthropy possible. As Congress considers changes to the tax code – both individual provisions and broader reform – ACR will join the conversation when we can add value. ACR will be guided by the following principles:

I. Public policy should enhance and encourage American generosity; it should not inhibit or diminish philanthropy. We believe private philanthropy is one of the most effective ways to drive innovation and entrepreneurial solutions to enhance the wellbeing of humankind.

ACR will oppose proposals that inhibit or diminish private charitable giving.

II. Charitable giving has been a part of the fabric of our democracy since our country’s founding. Therefore, our tax code has included charitable giving incentives for nearly a century. The charitable deduction, as currently structured is effective and generates billionsof dollars of giving.

ACR will oppose proposals to limit the charitable deduction.

III. The definition of charitable giving has historically encompassed a wide variety of purposes, including religion, education, health care, science, the arts, environmental conservation, public policy research and outreach, and help for the needy. ACR believes it is crucially important this definition not be narrowed or artificially limited.

ACR will oppose policies that directly or indirectly create a system that prioritizes one charitable purpose over another.

IV. charitable giving is an independent and voluntary action. ACR is committed to protecting the freedom of donors and private foundations to choose how and where to spend their personal assets in furtherance of charitable purposes.

ACR will oppose efforts to discriminate against specific philanthropic causes or charitable missions.

ACR will oppose efforts to characterize charitable contributions as public money and subject it to additional or onerous government controls.

ACR values the independence of donors and private philanthropic organizations, and will defend against efforts to directly or indirectly direct charitable giving in ways that disregard the intent of the donors.

V. ACR believes the philanthropic sector must operate with integrity to keep public confidence. Federal and state governments have important roles in ensuring the integrity of the sector and addressing abuses, as do voluntary associations.

ACR supports governments’ appropriately limited role in the oversight of philanthropic organizations.

ACR will oppose unwarranted constraints and intrusive government regulation.

ACR supports an efficient and sufficiently funded enforcement mechanism at federal and state levels (IRS Tax Exempt division and state charity offices) to enforce existing law and punish abusers.