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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Charitable Deduction

As we explain in our chapter in economic policy, taxpayers may deduct charitable contributions from the income on which they owe tax, thereby reducing their tax bill. The chapter on civic culture discusses how this deduction helps support many voluntary organizations.

Reduce the Itemized Deduction Write-off for Families with Incomes over $250,000. Currently, if a middle-class family donates a dollar to its favorite charity or spends a dollar on mortgage interest, it gets a 15-cent tax deduction, but a millionaire who does the same enjoys a deduction that is more than twice as generous. By reducing this disparity and returning the highincome deduction to the same rates that were in place at the end of the Reagan Administration, we will raise $291 billion over the next decade.

Millionaires, of course, get the greater deduction because their marginal tax rate is more than twice as high. According to the Daily Caller, charities are unhappy with the proposal:

Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center said the rule change would make it about 10 percent more expensive for individuals affected to donate to charity. He estimated that would correspond to a $10 billion drop in donations out of the $300 billion Americans give annually.

“From the perspective of charities, they’re in a tough time right anyway,” Williams said. “Some charities have been seeing a drop-off in donations and charities themselves that have endowments are seeing a drop-off in return from investments. It’s a double whammy.”