The outcome of the most recent Election Day contests for President and Congress means many things to many people. For the nonprofit sector, it means it’s time to get back to work on Capitol Hill as Congress considers a proposal by President Barack Obama that could cost the nonprofit sector billions of dollars in philanthropy.
On December 4 and 5, 2012, hundreds of nonprofit professionals from around the country will gather in Washington, DC for “Protect Giving-DC Days.” Participants will gather for a working dinner and, the next day, will meet with members of Congress and their staffs to encourage them to preserve the charitable giving tax deduction by helping them understand the potential impact that a decline in private giving would have on local programs and the people they serve.
Protect Giving-DC Days is being organized by The Charitable Giving Coalition, an alliance of over 40 charitable organizations, nonprofits, and associations pushing for common-sense tax policies that recognize the critical role philanthropy and the nonprofit sector play in restoring America’s economic and civic health. Coalition members include the Association of Fundraising Professionals, United Way Worldwide, the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities USA, the American Council on Education, the American Institute for Cancer Research, Independent Sector, The Philanthropy Roundtable, and others.
The advocacy effort is critically important as Congress attempts to identify ways of increasing revenues by limiting or eliminating tax deductions, including those for charitable giving. For example, Obama has proposed limiting the federal-tax charitable-deduction to 28 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000. Currently, taxpayers may claim up to a 35 percent charitable deduction.
A press release issued by the Coalition explains:
In 2011, individuals gave nearly $300 billion to support charitable causes, according to Giving USA.
Much of that giving is claimed as a charitable deduction by millions of taxpayers each year.… Any caps or limits on charitable giving will have a devastating impact on charities and nonprofits. If donors have less incentive to give to charities — donations will decline, impeding the important work nonprofits do for the millions of Americans who rely on them. For example, up to $5.6 billion in charitable giving would be lost each year if the President’s proposal to cut the charitable deduction were enacted.”
The Obama proposal comes at a time when the nonprofit sector is seeing increased demand for its services. According to the Coalition, the Nonprofit Finance Fund reports that 85 percent of nonprofits experienced higher demand for their services in 2011.
In a letter to Obama, the Coalition wrote:
Any proposed cap would have long-lasting negative consequences on the charitable organizations upon which millions of Americans rely for vital programs and services.
Higher income taxpayers account for the majority of individual giving. According to a recent Congressional Budget Office report on the tax treatment of charitable giving, tax filers who reported an adjusted gross income of at least $100,000 in 2008 were responsible for well over half (about 58 percent) of all charitable giving by taxpayers.”
For more information and to sign-up to participate for Protect Giving-DC Days, please click here.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals, Chair of the Coalition, has a great deal of experience working with members of Congress. For example, when I was Chairman of the AFP Political Action Committee, I met with Sen. Charles Grassley (Ranking Minority Member, Senate Finance Committee) and Sen. Max Baucus (Chairman, Senate Finance Committee). I also met with other members of Congress as well as Congressional staffers, and I represented AFP in testimony to the Federal Trade Commission.
In the most recent election, the AFP Political Action Committee gave $24,000 to “10 members of Congress who are (or were) up for re-election, six in the House and four in the Senate,” according to a report in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
The AFP PAC is the only political-action committee that makes campaign contributions to federal candidates based exclusively on whether they support — or are in a position to sway — government action to benefit philanthropy. The AFP PAC was created to provide an additional tool to help step-up the organization’s advocacy efforts. The PAC helps AFP get a foot in the door so it can present its case.
For more information about the AFP PAC, click here. Please note, for legal reasons, the AFP PAC web page is only accessible to AFP members in the USA.
For information about some of the various discussions in Congress impacting the nonprofit sector, please read the following posts I wrote on the subject:
The Obama tax plan could cost the nonprofit sector $5.6 billion a year, unless we take action now. We each need to make sure our voices are heard on Capitol Hill. Remember, if you don’t participate in Protect Giving-DC Days or other advocacy efforts, you forfeit your right to complain about the plan that Congress eventually settles on.
That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?