Proving Conventional Wisdom Wrong (Again) on Charitable Giving Tax Incentives

Last year, the N.C. General Assembly came close to capping itemized deductions for charitable donations. Fortunately, reason prevailed, without disrupting the work in communities by charitable nonprofits.

From that tax fight, three things became abundantly clear: supporting charitable giving incentives makes for 1) good public policy, 2) good common sense, and 3) good politics (regardless of political party). These truths will be on full display in Washington this September when the U.S. Senate has the opportunity to pass the America Gives More Act before adjourning for the elections in November.

Before U.S. Senators recess for the November elections, we need to encourage them to help nonprofits and the communities we serve by passing the America Gives More Act (H.R. 4719). This bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support in July, promotes giving to the work of charitable nonprofits in communities across the country. Specifically, it would:

  • Renew and make permanent expired charitable giving incentives that promote donations of nutritious food to food banks, conservation of land, and contributions from individual retirement accounts directly to charitable nonprofits;
  • Simplify a foundation excise tax, thereby making more funds available for good works; and
  • Permit taxpayers to claim charitable deductions from the previous year up through April 15.

Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) are back home this month for the annual summer recess. When they return to Washington after Labor Day, there will be barely a dozen legislative days left in September before Congress adjourns again for the November elections. Conventional wisdom says that there isn’t time or political will to take up and pass the America Gives More Act it this short window of opportunity. But we in North Carolina know that conventional wisdom had decided that fighting a cap on the state charitable deduction was a lost cause.

Conventional wisdom can be proven wrong once again, but only if we all work on behalf of the best interests of our communities. As a board member of the National Council of Nonprofits, which represents 25,000 nonprofits across the country, and a staff member at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, which provides a united voice for our 1,500 Members, I know what a difference this legislation can make to nonprofits and communities alike.

We have to make clear to Senators Burr and Hagan the need for them to convince their respective party leaders to pass the America Gives More Act in September.

Here is a simple message we can all share with our elected officials: Don’t leave Washington in September until the Senate passes the America Gives More Act (H.R. 4719).  Our communities are counting on you.

You can deliver the message by:

  • Calling their local (Sen. Burr: 800-685-8916 and Sen. Hagan: 336-333-5311) or Washington, DC offices (Sen. Burr: 202-224-3154 and Sen. Hagan: 202-224-6342);
  • Tweeting Senators Burr (@SenatorBurr) and Hagan (@SenatorHagan) the simple message; or
  • Writing Senator Burr and Senator Hagan (see sample letter).

The National Council of Nonprofits has additional information and talking points.

Trisha Lester Chairs the Membership Committee of the National Council of Nonprofits and serves as Vice President at the N.C. Center.

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