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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Religion and Tax Reform

A previous post noted that proposals to limit tax deductions for charitable donations are facing opposition from charities.  As we explain in the textbook, many of these charities are faith-based, so it follows that religious groups are joining this opposition.

Catholic institutions rely on the charitable deduction to feed, house, clothe, educate, and care for millions of people around the world,” said the bishops who oversee the domestic and international justice and peace efforts of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and should be protected in any final agreement to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
In a December 14 letter to Congress, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, called the tax system an “important tool” for raising adequate revenue and fulfilling the responsibility of ensuring basic human needs, such as food, clothing, health care, work and education, are accessible to all people.
“One way our tax system attempts to accomplish this is with the charitable deduction, which encourages taxpayers to support private charity, religion, and education,” the bishops wrote.
In their letter, Bishop Blaire and Bishop Pates also noted the importance of protecting the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, Emergency Unemployment Compensation, poverty-focused international assistance, and other programs that “help guarantee basic human rights for millions of people.”
Bishop Blaire also joined other Christian leaders of the Circle of Protection. . . in releasing principles regarding the ongoing budget negotiations surrounding the fiscal cliff, and calling on Republicans and Democrats to adhere to the basic moral principle of protecting programs that serve low-income people. Circle of Protection leaders also called for protecting the charitable deduction.
The Jewish Federations of North America is urging citizens to contact their elected officials as part of its continuing effort to protect the charitable contribution tax deduction.
JFNA, in collaboration with social service partners, is asking the public to write or call the White House and Congress and ask their politicians to continue to keep charitable contributions tax deductible at the current level.
"We are working with our national and local coalition partners to ensure elected officials recognize the importance of charitable contributions in supporting the social safety net, and to activate the public to join us in this fight,” said Michael Siegal, chair of JFNA’s board of trustees.

These deductions are “a vital component in supporting Jewish social service agencies as they work to help protect the most vulnerable,” JFNA said in a statement.
“Any limit on charitable deductions would hurt front-line charities serving people in need,” according to the statement.