Wrinkle: Tax plans threaten charitable giving

Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 11:34 AM

The Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado is extremely concerned about tax proposals being considered by Congress because of the likelihood they will hurt charitable giving and threaten the quality of life in our corner of the state and beyond.

Both the Senate and House bills do away with a number of deductions and credits, while almost doubling the standard deduction. The century-old charitable-giving deduction would remain for those individuals who would still opt to itemize deductions on their tax forms, but it’s estimated that only a small percentage of taxpayers would benefit from itemizing deductions if the current reform legislation passes.

A study by the Tax Policy Center released this month estimated charities would lose between $12 billion and $18 billion in donations next year because of the proposed tax bill’s impact on the incentive for donating to charitable nonprofits. These are the organizations that work to make life better for low- and middle-income workers and their families in our region.

We’re urging our members of Congress to push for the creation of a universal charitable deduction that all taxpayers could use whether or not they itemize. Without this type of provision, charitable giving could drop dramatically in our state and have a devastating impact on the ability of our nonprofits to assist those in need here in our area.

It’s important to understand the philanthropic sector can’t fill the needs – here at home or nationally – that would be created as a result of tax bill provisions negatively impacting charitable giving and low- and middle-income workers and families.

Colorado’s foundations contributed a record $810 million to nonprofits in 2014, the latest year for which overall data are available. By contrast, 2015 IRS data show that Coloradans who currently itemize gave almost $3.9 billion to charity.

Clearly, foundations can’t make up for the potentially steep drop in giving we could see if the current tax bills become law.

Briggen Wrinkle Executive Director, Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado