Don't inhibit people from making charitable donations [Most commented]
In response to President Obama's suggestion to reduce the top charitable tax deduction to 28%, Jack Shakely argues: “It's time to do away with the charitable deduction altogether.” It would “reduce our national debt by a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next decade,” he says, and it would “remove an often abused and possibly unconstitutional section of the tax code.” And anyway, he says, most people don’t need a financial incentive to donate. He writes:
Philanthropy may be a Greek term, but America perfected it. It is so much a part of who we are, it is not dependent on well-meaning but often nonproductive attempts to subsidize or control it. Charitable Americans created the charitable deduction, not the other way around. Would you really stop giving to your college, church or to children in need simply because the charitable deduction were reduced or removed?
Readers overwhelming disagree with Shakely's Op-Ed piece. Here’s a sampling of their comments from our discussion board:
This would pave the way for more government intervention
Agreed; let's end all these silly organizations and let government programs provide for all. It works -- just ask the Greeks, the Italians, the Soviets (oops -- sorry, I forgot they just weren't ideologically pure enough), the North Koreans....
This is an attack on religious organizations
This is nothing more than a leftist attempt to attack religious organizations. Hasn't attacking Christianity has been tried UNSUCCESSFULLY throughout history already?
This is a way to secure more money so that the left can keep spending, spending and spending
The left is really getting desperate when they must attempt to steal from the charities to fuel their insatiable need for more spending. The country is sick.
Here's a better idea
If Shakely wants to get rid of something unconstitutional, he should start with Obamacare. Charitable giving might be the only thing that keeps some people from being totally dependent on the government. But a subservient population totally reliant on government largesse always been the overriding objective of the liberal bloc.
Actually, here's a better idea
In this time of increasingly onerous budget cuts, the idea of reducing the federal income tax deduction for charity (including schools, colleges, hospitals, medical research, and the arts) borders on the sinister. While most taxpayers “give” regardless of deductibility, many larger donors would be tempted to either reduce their giving, or eliminate it entirely, without the added benefit of tax deductibility.
Indeed, some of our greatest philanthropists leverage “giving” as a way to significantly reduce their tax burden. For billionaires-by-birth such as Ronald Lauder, this form of "tax avoidance" may be one of the few ways direct large sums of inherited wealth to "the public good," as little of their wealth is ever subject to taxation. Indeed, many of the largest gifts to education, the arts, and scientific research are often the result of sophisticated tax planning.
Are we, as a nation, willing to sacrifice more than $1 trillion in annual giving -- $10 trillion over the next decade -- to save just $250 billion in federal tax revenue? Even if just 10% of such giving is dependent upon the current form of deduction, the amount we risk is four times what we would save. If you really want to eliminate the deduction, raise taxes on the .1 percent.
*For clarity purposes, spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: A passerby slips money into the donation kettle as the Salvation Army's Mathew Niblack belts out a tune in Port Orchard, Wash. Credit: Meegan M. Reid / Kitsap Sun / Associated Press