Drop in giving feared from tax change

Andrew Watt
Andrew Watt

Three of four fundraisers expect donations to their charities to drop if Congress enacts into law a White House proposal to limit the charitable deduction, a new poll says.

Seventy-seven percent of 525 visitors to the website of the Association of Fundraising Professionals who took a Quick Poll conducted from mid-April to mid-June said the White House proposal would cause donations to their organization to drop at least slightly.

That included 23 percent that expected a decline of roughly 5 percent, 27 percent that expected a decline of 10 percent to 20 percent, and 27 percent that expected a decline of 25 percent or more.

Nine percent of poll-takers expected no effect at all, and 14 percent were not sure what the effect might be.

The Obama administration has proposed limiting to a maximum of 28 percent the tax rate at which high-income taxpayers can take itemized deductions, a move that would affect married taxpayers filing a joint return with income over $250,000, at 2009 levels, and single taxpayers with income over $200,000.

Those taxpayers currently may claim a deduction of up to 35 percent.

“The White House and Congress must understand that limiting the value of itemized deductions for charitable contributions will dramatically affect the charitable sector and those it serves,” Andrew Watt, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, says in a statement.

While giving grew 2 percent in 2010 according to a recent report from the Giving USA Foundation, he says, it will take a long time for giving to return to its levels in 2007, before the recession.

“2009 and 2009 were two of the worst years for fundraising ever, with significant drops in giving across the board affecting eve type of charity,” he says. “Capping the deduction just as we’re starting to see the smallest signs of economic recovery is exactly the wrong move to take.”

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