Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Blank Slate is a Full Opportunity

The debate over tax reform and the charitable deduction has taken another surprising twist.

Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chairman and ranking member of the Finance Committee respectively, have taken a unique approach to tax reform.  Starting with a complete blank slate—no tax deductions or tax credits of any kind (which includes the charitable deduction)—they’ve written this letter asking their fellow Senators to submit to them the deductions they want kept and the reasons why they should be continued.  The Senators have until July 26, 2013 to submit their input.

Essentially, EVERYTHING is now on the table.

This approach represents a unique opportunity—and threat—for the charitable sector. With an overwhelming show of support from Senators, we can—for once and for all—end the discussion about the need for the charitable deduction. On the other hand, a marginal show of support doesn’t mean the end of the deduction. But it might signal to Senators and others that placing limits on the deduction wouldn’t lead to any serious ramifications or consequences, giving or otherwise.

I know I’ve asked you a couple of times already this year to communicate with your Members of Congress about the deduction, as recently as my last post. But the difference between a potent, influential lobbying force and one on the margins is our ability to deliver messages and impact continuously throughout the year.

Please use our Engaging Networks platform to send a message (or a second or third one if you have already) to your Senators AND Representatives. Encourage them to ask Sens. Baucus and Hatch to ensure the charitable deduction IS included in the tax code, and talk about the impact the deduction—and charitable giving—has on your mission.

This is a pivotal moment in the debate over the charitable deduction. There are countless good reasons why the charitable deduction is critical to our society and must remain. But it’s up to us to communicate and deliver those reasons.

The blank slate is there—it’s time to fill it in with our stories of impact of the charitable deduction.

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