Two-Thirds of Americans Say Don’t Touch Charitable Tax Deduction

New polling reveals that two-thirds of Americans don’t want the President and Congress to touch the charitable tax deduction in their search for more dollars to pull the government away from the “fiscal cliff.” U.S. leaders in both major political parties have floated the idea of capping tax deductions to steer more money from Americans into the public coffers.

A nationally representative survey conducted in mid-November by United Way Worldwide showed that Americans clearly value the charitable tax deduction. Nearly 8 in 10 respondents agreed that reducing or eliminating the charitable tax deduction would be bad for charities and the people they serve. Sixty-seven percent opposed diminishing this deduction, and, if it was, 30 percent signaled they would reduce their giving levels.

Over 30 non-profit groups, including the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, Dunham+Company, Educational Media Foundation, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and The Salvation Army, earlier this month sent letters to the President and top Congressional leaders warning that “any cap or limitation on charitable deductions undermines charitable giving and would have long-lasting negative consequences.” Moreover, they declared:

      The charitable deduction is different than other itemized deductions in that it encourages
      individuals to give away a portion of their income to those in need. It rewards a selfless act, and
      it encourages taxpayers to give more to charities than they would otherwise have given. Data
      suggests that for every dollar a donor gets in tax relief for his or her donation, the public
      typically receives three dollars of benefit. No other tax provision generates that kind of positive
      public impact.

A tax deduction for charitable giving has been an American public policy for nearly a century.

   • Find United Way Worldwide’s survey results here.
   • Read more about this subject.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations

Published: November 30, 2012