Earle Mack, the former U.S. Ambassador to Finland, urges the White House and Congress not to sacrifice the charitable deduction in lieu of a budget deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
“Hands off charitable deductions,” he wrote in a blog post for the Hill
. “It works, don’t fix it.
“Capping the tax deduction for charitable contributions will have a devastating effect, directly and indirectly,” said Mack, who served under President George W. Bush. “So, it’s not surprising that representatives of non-profit organizations are descending on Capitol Hill to fight to keep the deduction alive.”
He added: “According to studies by Independent Sector, non-profits and foundations employ nearly 13 million people and account for 5.5 percent of our GDP. They have more than 62 million volunteers providing more than 8 billion hours of service – the equivalent of another 4 million jobs, worth more than $170 billion. Non-profits spend roughly $1.9 trillion annually, including investments in every state in the union.
“The top 2 percent of taxpayers donate more than $100 billion a year to support those institutions,” said Mack, the chairman emeritus of the New York State Council on the Arts. “They do it because it’s the right thing to do, and the deduction provides a strong incentive.
“If the charitable deduction is capped, that certainly will change. There is likely to be a noticeable attitude adjustment when people feel that the government isn’t encouraging charitable giving. People like me might find ourselves feeling just a bit more selfish. We might buy a bigger house, a yacht, more racehorses, and even a new plane.
“In short,” Mack concluded, “capping or eliminating the deduction would be a serious impediment to economic growth.”
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