12/17/13 — Coalition Members Respond to Madoff

By The Charitable Giving Coalition

In her recent post in the New York Times, Professor Ray Madoff made a misguided attack on the charitable tax deduction. The criticism prompted a swift reaction from the charitable sector, including members of the Coalition. 

In a letter to the editor, Lorie A. Slutsky, president of the New York Community Trust, highlighted the role of the deduction as a lifeline for those in need, not a loophole for the wealthy:

“With the charitable deduction, no tangible benefit accrues to the donor.  Is a donor financially better off after giving away money? No. Individuals are simply not taxed on money they give away, and that’s helped to improve the quality of life across America, in areas both urban and rural, for nearly 100 years. It’s also made this country’s charitable tradition the envy of the world.”

Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Council on Foundationsresponded to Madoff’s assertion that some nonprofits are “more charitable” and deserving of the deduction than others:

“The idea that policymakers might rank organizations’ charitable value raises many complex questions. For example, how would policymakers or tax regulators determine who would deserve the benefit of the deduction or which organizations’ purposes were ‘charitable’…Our charitable sector thrives because donors get to choose to donate their money to diverse causes. Some choose children’s health. Others choose support for military families. Still others choose community theater groups. Philanthropy should remain an independent investment – free of politics or favoritism.”

As the charitable tax deduction continues to suffer attacks from those who misunderstand its vital importance to the nation’s communities, it is essential that we make our voices heard. You can easily join the fight to preserve this valuable American tradition in a variety of ways: