WASHINGTON, D.C.— The Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR), which is the legislative arm of The Philanthropy Roundtable, met with Vice President of the United States Mike Pence, congressional leadership and multiple Trump Administration officials July 13 to discuss issues affecting the charitable sector, such as the potential effect of tax reform on charitable giving. ACR brought foundation executives from across the country to participate in the meetings in an event dubbed “Champions for Charity.”
“For 30 years, The Philanthropy Roundtable has mustered the power of private charity to advance liberty, opportunity and personal responsibility. The contributions of the foundations represented [here] are immense and have changed lives across this country in incalculable ways. So, thank you so much for the institutions that you represent,” said Vice President Pence to open the listening session.
The Trump Administration announced in April that it would conduct listening sessions following the release of its outline on tax reform. Upon the announcement, ACR called on the Administration to include the nonprofit sector in those sessions, and Thursday’s meeting was a fulfillment of that request.
“Now is the time for more charitable giving not less. Now is the time to increase charitable giving from two percent to three percent of GDP. And now is the time to make the charitable deduction universal, so it is available to all Americans. We’re so honored to be here and grateful for [Vice President Pence’s] leadership,” said Adam Meyerson, president of The Philanthropy Roundtable.
In addition to the listening session with the Vice President, ACR met with Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), House Ways and Means member Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) and the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Attendees also met with Justin Muzinich, an advisor to Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, also attended the listening session with Vice President Pence.
“I was encouraged by the response of the members of Congress and officials we met today and their reaction to our explanation of how the universal charitable deduction can help society. They understood that we recognize there are potential challenges to charitable giving in tax reform but were grateful that we had a potential solution. I feel like they really connected with us and we really connected with them,” said Mason Rummel, president of the James Graham Brown Foundation in Louisville, Kentucky.
“All of the members we met with today were very welcoming to our solution of a universal charitable deduction, and I am grateful they took the time to meet with us. It is important that charitable giving is preserved and even expanded in tax reform because it is the lifeblood of the charitable organizations doing incredible work all across this country,” said Linda Evans, president and CEO of the Meadows Foundation in Dallas, Texas.
ACR is among several leaders in the charitable sector educating elected officials about the unintended consequences of tax reform – such as the effect reducing the number of itemizers could have on charitable giving. According to IRS data, doubling the standard deduction and reducing the number of itemizers from one-third of Americans to about five percent would remove the tax incentive for an estimated $95 billion of annual charitable giving. ACR has presented a universal charitable deduction – which expands the charitable deduction to all Americans – as a solution to protect charitable giving.
Following the meetings, Chairman Brady was reported to have said that members were giving “very serious thought” to including a universal charitable deduction in tax reform. “At all income levels, we want to encourage Americans who are incredibly generous already to give more, to give earlier in life,” Brady said.
Official White House photo by Joyce Boghosian.