Don’t Cap Charitable Tax Deductions for the Upper Classes

Target: President Obama, members of Congress

Goal: Don’t enforce new limits on charitable tax deductions for higher-income Americans

As President Obama embarks on his second term, he and his cabinet must work to strengthen the middle class while keeping essential government programs for the poor robust. And while increasing taxes on the nation’s top earners surely marks a key step towards a healthier society, discouraging contributions to charitable organizations by limiting tax breaks on philanthropic donations may do more harm than good for America’s most vulnerable citizens.

President Obama’s current tax plan, set to take effect in January 2013, would limit the tax deductions that can be claimed on charitable donations by families making $250,000 or more a year. While deduction caps might ensure that more income from wealthy families goes towards reducing the deficit, Americans still rely on philanthropic organizations more than ever to fill specific community needs. When Hurricane Sandy devastated New York, it was the efforts of groups like the Red Cross that helped residents get back on their feet. Animal welfare groups provide essential spay/neuter and rehoming services across the nation while government dollars subsidize factory farming. And longstanding organizations like the Salvation Army now work harder than ever to ensure the country’s poorest citizens keep from going hungry throughout the holiday season.

Leaders from the Salvation Army, Goodwill, United Way, and other major charities have teamed up to protest the proposed limits on charitable tax deductions. “If the charitable deduction is capped, reduced or eliminated, wealthy Americans will not bear the brunt of any changes made to itemized deductions that negatively impact charitable giving – those who are most in need will,” said leaders in a letter to President Obama.

While Americans might not be motivated to donate to these groups by the tax break alone, wealthy donors are certainly more inspired to give generously if it means a year-end deduction on their income tax. If deductions are capped as planned, charitable organizations may soon begin to struggle to provide for those Americans that depend on them for essential services.

Strengthening government programs and shrinking the deficit should of course remain high on President Obama’s to-do list, but allowing charities to function as intended should be a top priority as well. Urge the president and Congress to seek balance this year and keep current tax deductions for charitable giving in place.


Dear President Obama and members of Congress,

I applaud your administration’s plan to strengthen government programs and reduce the deficit by raising taxes on America’s highest-earning citizens. However, I urge you not to forget the important role that private charitable organizations play in providing for our nation’s poor as we move forward into the new year.

Organizations like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army are there for those in need when government assistance falls short. During crises like Hurricane Sandy, philanthropic workers arrive to provide aid at the first hints of disaster. Hundreds of charities across the nation step in to feed the hungry during the holidays and the rest of the year. And while these essential organizations see donations from Americans of all walks, it’s the wealthiest Americans who are often able to provide the most crucial funding.

Capping tax breaks on charitable giving might not turn wealthy Americans off of giving entirely, but it could have a disastrous effect on the magnitude of their generosity. As you unroll your tax plan for the new year, I ask you to seek balance between government programs and charitable organizations when it comes to providing for America’s poor. Keep current limits on tax deductions intact and ensure that charities have the means to function properly for years and years to come.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: koko love via Flickr.

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