13 October 2017

ACR News 10.13.17 – Universal Charitable Deduction Legislation Introduced

>> Federal: Washington Roundup
>> Federal: Tax Reform?
>> Federal: Universal Charitable Giving Act of 2017
>> Federal: Roadmap for Action – October
>> Consider This: Walk the Plank
>> Top ReadsNonprofits Battle to Get Charitable Deduction Extended to All Taxpayers

Washington Roundup

Last week, the House and Senate both took important steps toward tax reform by advancing their respective budget resolutions. The eventual budget resolution is expected to include reconciliation instructions to allow for tax reform to be passed by 50 votes in the Senate, instead of the usual 60. The House passed its version on Thursday, October 5, and the Senate is expected to pass its sometime next week, after which both chambers will have to hash out their differences.

The expectation is that they’ll complete the process this month.

Tax Reform

As you may recall, President Trump and Congressional Republicans released their tax reform framework at the end of September. The framework is the template for Republicans to use when drafting tax reform legislation.

Among its provisions, the framework would nearly double the standard deduction and would eliminate most deductions except two “sacred cows” – charitable and mortgage interest.

However, because the doubling of the standard deduction would dramatically reduce the number of taxpayers who itemize (and take the charitable deduction), studies suggest charitable giving will drop. ACR has been actively working with members of Congress on new charitable deductions for those who won’t itemize.

Universal Charitable Giving Act of 2017

Although the framework didn’t address how or if the charitable deduction would be modified to offset the estimated loss of giving in tax reform, the idea isn’t lost. On Thursday, October 5, Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) introduced the Universal Charitable Giving Act (H.R. 3988), which would implement a charitable deduction for non-itemizers that would be capped at 1/3 of the standard deduction. You can read our statement on the bill here.

Rep. Walker is chair of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative Republicans in the House, and he is co-chair of the Congressional Prayer Caucus. You can read the statement his office put out on the bill here and also see him introducing the bill on the floor of the House in the video below.

This legislation is a good start, and it’s a good sign that influential members are recognizing the impact tax reform could have on charitable giving. ACR is analyzing the impact of the Walker bill on the sector and looks forward to working with Rep. Walker’s staff and other allies in Congress, along with our colleagues in the sector, to come up with the best solution for America’s communities.

Roadmap for Action – October

At the ACR Summit for Leaders in March, we presented a Roadmap for Action – a 12-month plan to engage with lawmakers and your community. We then hosted a webinar in April for those who may have missed the Summit.

October’s action item is invite lawmakers to your organizations while they’re in recess. That was this week for the Senate, and next week for the House. You can find all the resources you need here, which includes suggested materials to have on hand and answers to FAQs.

We also want to share in your successes! September’s action item was to attend an in-district meeting with your Senators. If you took a photo during your visit and you would like to share it with us, please email it to sbarba@urbanswirski.com. Some examples of how to share on social media can be found here.

Consider This – Walk the Plank

On September 27, the House, Senate and the Administration released a nine page framework for tax reform. Following that release there was a hue and a cry from many rank-and-file Republicans about things like eliminating the state and local tax deduction, raising the lowest individual tax rate and lowering the top individual rate.

Less than three weeks after the framework was released, the President said that he planned to make changes to his tax plan.

He also took aim at Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Additionally, his former strategy advisor, Steve Bannon, announced his plans to support primary opponents for all but one of the seven Republican Senators up for reelection in 2018.

We relay this information because none of the above is going to make getting tax reform through the House and Senate any easier. And members in both chambers are going to be hesitant to “walk the plank” on tough choices if the President won’t have their backs.

We’ve got a long way to go, and it is painfully clear that it’s not going to be easy to get everyone rowing in the same direction, at least as things stand for now.

Top Reads

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