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Sample Letters on Senate Finance Charity Proposals

(Sept. 6, 2005) Below are two sample letters that members can use when contacting their members of Congress regarding proposed charitable reforms being considered by the Senate Finance Committee.

Please be sure to personalize your letter (or write a new one altogether), as congressional offices are increasingly wary of form letters. Be sure to include some of AFP's key messages in your letter.

Information about specific accountability proposals and giving reform measures are available on the AFP website.

Letter 1

DATE

The Honorable _________

U.S. Senate

LOCAL STATE ADDRESS

Dear Senator __________,

I serve as (TITLE) of the (ORGANIZATION NAME) and am an active member of (CITY OR TOWN)'s nonprofit community.

I am greatly concerned about many of the proposals regarding charitable giving being considered by the Senate Finance Committee. My own organization [SENTENCE OR TWO ON HOW YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS BENEFITED FROM NONCASH GIFTS]

In many cases, gifts-in-kind allow donors to share a piece of fine art with a community and subsequent generations by contributing it to a museum, leaving a rare book to a library that allows students access to a unique text or maximizing their gift by transferring real estate to a worthy charity. Food banks depend on such contributions to feed the hungry in our communities. At the most basic level, noncash gifts provide clothing and household items for those in need.

I ask you to support the current income tax deductibility of noncash gifts. The proposals to alter the noncash charitable gift incentives come at a precarious time for charities. Americans are a generous people, but many charities are still recovering from the past several years when charitable giving has been flat and even decreased for many organizations.

The loss of gifts-in-kind will weaken the nonprofit sector. Citizens of _______ will feel the loss by diminished cultural and basic resources. Thank you for your attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

 

Letter 2

The Honorable _______

U.S. Senate

LOCAL STATE ADDRESS

Dear Senator _______:

I am writing to urge you to protect the charitable sector from unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations. I'm particularly concerned about proposals to modify the tax rules regarding noncash charitable contributions (known as 'in-kind' contributions).

The new proposals include recommendations to completely eliminate or substantially modify deductions for in-kind contributions. Many charities heavily rely upon noncash donations, and there is no legitimate reason to attack this lifeline. [PLEASE INSERT A SENTENCE OR TWO HERE ABOUT HOW YOUR ORGANIZATION RELIES ON IN-KIND GIFTS.]

Changing the in-kind contribution rules would unfairly compel charities to divert valuable time and resources to new valuation compliance schemes. The inability of the Internal Revenue Service to address improper donor behavior should not result in penalties for charities and the communities and populations that they serve. Significant revision of the in-kind contribution rules would greatly diminish my organization's ability to provide altruistic services.

These proposals are not based on any credible evidence of widespread abuse. Indeed, it appears that many of the suggestions are driven by a desire to raise federal revenues from the charitable sector. Such an effort is completely inconsistent with the notion of tax-exempt status, and I hope you will strongly oppose such proposals.

The proposals to alter the noncash charitable gift incentives come at a precarious time for charities. Americans are a generous people, but many charities are still recovering from the past several years when charitable giving has been flat and even decreased for many organizations.

Again, I urge you to oppose changes to the in-kind contribution rules as well as any unreasonable and burdensome legislation that would harm the charitable sector. I very much appreciate your support.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

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