Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Significant Legislation, Even in an Election Year

There’s been a lot of activity on the Hill over the past two weeks, here in DC. We’ve seen the introduction of two major public policy initiatives: a tax reform plan released by Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chair of the Ways and Means Committee; and the Obama Administration’s 2015 budget.

Both proposals have significant implications for the fundraising profession.

The Camp tax reform plan, among other things, creates a two percent floor for all itemized deductions. It also limits the total annual charitable deductions a donor can take for contributions of cash—from 50 to 40 percent of adjusted gross income.

The Obama budget repeats a lot that we have seen before (several times before really), including a cap on all itemized deductions—the charitable deduction not exempted. As we’ve said many times previously, that represents a potential loss of $80 billion in charitable contributions over 10 years.

It’s tempting to say, in an election year, that a tax reform bill is too much for Congress to try to pull off. And a budget plan is always going to get scoured and carved up the minute it hits Capitol Hill.

But we CANNOT afford to ignore these proposals.

It’s clear the Obama Administration is still not getting the message. Despite numerous meetings, and continued assurances from White House officials that they understand the needs of the sector, the Administration seems committed to pushing a cap on giving.

The Camp plan is significant because it comes from the chair of the Ways and Means Committee and a leader in tax reform ideas. Even if it doesn’t pass this year, it sets the marker and starting point for future tax reform discussions.

We cannot allow these proposals to be introduced without a strong show of our concern and strength. Our advocacy sends a message to the White House that we will not be taken for granted. It tells Congress that the sector is watching how it supports the sector. And though our stories and advocacy, we show the government just how wrong-headed these proposals are.

Our leaders ARE listening when we get involved. One-third of the Senate, led by Sens. Wyden (D-Ore.) and Thune (R-S.D.) have signed on to a letter protecting the full value of the charitable deduction—an initiative AFP and the Charitable Giving Coalition helped support.

AFP has worked up a short fact sheet about the Camp proposal, along with a sample letter. Please, take a minute or two and write up a short letter, talking about what a loss in contributions might mean for your organization. I also filmed a special Nikki's Notes about this important issue.

And be on the lookout for an e-letter campaign on the Engaging Networks platform. We’ll roll that out to you and your colleagues in the very near future.

These sorts of proposals won’t end until we make Congress and the White House understand the importance of the charitable deduction—for our organizations, and the people we serve.

We CAN make a difference, and we need to now.

1 comment:

Brawn Clark said...

You are an interesting mix. Such a combination is not common.

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