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AFP Calls on Senate to Approve Non-Itemizer Deduction to Prevent Drop in Charitable Giving

CONTACT: Michael Nilsen, Vice President, Public Affairs, (425) 241-4675

(Arlington, Va.) With the current Senate tax reform bill estimated to decrease giving significantly, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the largest community of charitable fundraisers in the world, urges all Senators to support an amendment to create a non-itemizer charitable deduction.

The Senate tax bill would double the standard deduction, shifting more than 30 million Americans from itemizers to non-itemizers, leaving just five percent of taxpayers able to take advantage of the charitable deduction. With far fewer people using the charitable deduction, giving would drop by $13 billion every year, according to research by Independent Sector and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, a six percent reduction in giving by individuals.

“Fundraisers across the country will tell you that people give for a variety of reasons, but that incentives such as the charitable deduction help increase the size of gifts and how often someone gives,” said Mike Geiger, president and CEO of AFP. “Removing that incentive for so many taxpayers is going to have a negative impact on giving levels, which is why we are encouraging support of an amendment to create a non-itemizer deduction, extending the incentive to give to all taxpayers.”

The amendment, introduced by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would allow an above-the-line deduction for charitable contributions. The maximum deduction would be limited to 60% of modified adjusted gross income. The deduction would phase out at higher income levels: 3% for every dollar of taxable income above $266,700 for single taxpayers, $320,000 for married, and $293,550 for head of household.

The impact of the non-itemizer deduction would be significant. Research has shown that the inclusion of a similar provision, the universal charitable deduction (allowing all taxpayers to itemizer their charitable giving), into the Senate tax bill would not only offset the expected $13 billion loss, but actually increase giving overall by $5 billion annually.

“The impact of the non-itemizer, even with limitations, is powerful and will help ensure that giving does not drop during a critical time for charities as they face increased demand for services and programs,” said Geiger. “We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Stabenow and Wyden, and calling on all Senators to support this important amendment that will help strengthen the great American tradition of philanthropy.”

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