The budget conference committee in Congress has a self-imposed deadline of December 15 to create a recommended 2014 fiscal year budget. The committee is considering dramatically different House and Senate budget resolutions – which were adopted last March while grantmakers were in Washington, D.C. for Foundations on the Hill.
Expectations are low for a so-called “grand bargain” designed to address structural federal budget challenges. But the committee may strike a timely, modest deal, if only to counter public concerns about paralyzing government gridlock after the recent shutdown. Modest tax reforms are being considered as part of the committee’s deliberations.
Protect Giving Day
The Charitable Giving Coalition, a group of more than 60 nonprofits, foundations and other charitable organizations, is concerned that changes to the charitable tax deduction could be among the tax reforms taken up by the committee.
The Coalition has declared November 20 as Protect Giving Day, with nonprofit and philanthropic leaders around the country contacting lawmakers to protect the charitable tax deduction. This will be similar to the effort last December during the “fiscal cliff” crisis when advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. to block then-proposed changes to the charitable tax deduction.
The Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) has been clear about the benefits of the deduction. We’ve covered the benefits on this blog before: in short, the public receives three dollars of benefit for every dollar a donor gets in tax relief, and limiting it could do substantial harm to many nonprofits around the country.
Excise Tax Simplification
We also communicated with Minnesota’s Congressional delegation as the shutdown crisis ended, cautioning against changing the charitable tax deduction and recommending that the budget negotiations are an opportunity to enact a budget-neutral simplification of the private foundation excise tax.
As MCF continues to communicate with members of Congress as a build up to Protect Giving Day, we encourage you to let your representatives know of the importance of the charitable deduction. If you who have traveled with MCF for Foundations on the Hill or attended one of the Coffees with Congress we’ve hosted with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Minnesota United Ways, you can draw on your personal experience and legislative relationships to help make your case.
As the letter the Charitable Giving Coalition wrote to all members of Congress puts it: “While there is a sense of relief throughout America that a bipartisan agreement ended the federal government shutdown, the fallout placed hardships on too many families and communities. On this day of action, we will share our perspectives, including powerful examples about the strength and stability of the nonprofit sector, which was on full display during this time – and continues to be throughout the year.”
We hope all of you in Minnesota will join us in doing the same.
- Bob Tracy, MCF Director of Government Relations and Public Policy