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United Way backs itemization change

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United Way of America is backing legislation that would allow taxpayers who do not itemize their returns receive deductions for charitable contributions.

United Way estimates the change would mean an additional $180 million in donations to the organization each year, and billions of additional dollars donated to other charities across the U.S.

Under current law, only people who itemize their federal taxes, about three in 10 taxpayers, are allowed to deduct donations from their taxes.

The proposed change, which has been passed by the Senate, is not included in companion legislation from the House of Representatives, and United Way is encouraging that it be added during upcoming negotiations.

The proposal says let single filers deduct contributions that total more than $210 a year, and let joint filers deduct totals of more than $420 a year.

Those donation thresholds also would apply to itemizing tax filers, who currently can deduct any amount donated, a move United Way says could lead to a drop in giving by people who itemize.

However, such a drop would be offset by the incentive for non-itemizers to give, United Way says.

And it says the proposed change also may encourage charitable giving by the two in 10 Americans who currently do not donate at all.

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