1/23/14 — 33 SENATORS SIGN WYDEN/THUNE LETTER ON CHARITABLE DEDUCTION

One-third of the U.S. Senate has joined Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and John Thune (R-SD) in publicly calling for the protection of the “full value and scope” of the charitable deduction in any comprehensive tax reform legislation. A total of 33 Senators—17 Republicans and 16 Democrats—signed the letter authored by Wyden and Thune that was submitted to the leadership of the Senate Finance Committee today.

“We write to you to underscore the importance of protecting the full value and scope of the charitable deduction during a comprehensive rewrite of the tax code,” Senators Wyden and Thune said in the letter. “Analysis has repeatedly shown that proposals to cut, cap, or limit the charitable deduction could cause charitable donations to decline by billions of dollars annually.  Worse yet, weakening the charitable deduction would most hurt the adults and children who receive vital charitable services from organizations like soup kitchens, after-school programs, and medical research projects, just to name a few.” 

The growing bipartisan effort drew strong praise from members of the Charitable Giving Coalition.

“Senators Wyden and Thune have been long-time champions of the charitable sector. Their support for charitable giving incentives has been extraordinarily valuable,” said Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide. “Preserving the charitable deduction is essential because it encourages community engagement and provides critical resources to help our nation’s individuals and families.”

“At CCUSA we support the charitable tax deduction due to the critical role it plays in allowing organizations to continue their important charitable outreach in communities all across our nation,” said Rev. Larry Snyder, CCUSA president. “Our communities need policies that help encourage charitable giving, not discourage the support of our neighbors in need. I thank this bipartisan group of lawmakers for recognizing the critical role charitable giving plays in helping us to continue our obligation to provide help and hope to the more than 46 million people in this country who are struggling to make ends meet.”

“We are grateful to the 33 Senators who signed this bipartisan letter calling for protection of the charitable deduction,” Adam Meyerson, president of The Philanthropy Roundtable, said. “As we look to expand opportunity and address the crisis in economic mobility, our public policy must continue to encourage the generosity of Americans who in 2012 gave an astonishing $316 billion to charity.”

“On behalf of the Council on Foundations, I am grateful to all the senators who signed this letter and stood with America’s charitable and philanthropic sector, especially Senator Thune and Senator Wyden for their leadership and steadfast commitment to preserving charitable giving incentives,” said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “We understand the difficult choices facing lawmakers, but the positive impact of the charitable deduction is undeniable. We are encouraged that so many senators recognize its effectiveness in supporting communities across the country.”

“We are thrilled that this bipartisan group of Senators has recognized the importance of preserving the charitable contribution deduction,” said William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington Office of The Jewish Federations of North America. “The deduction is a lifeline for nonprofit organizations that depend on the charity of others to serve those most in need. Now is the time for helping those less fortunate and we are grateful to Senators Thune and Wyden’s leadership in this debate.”

“We thank the numerous Senators who signed this letter and offered their steadfast support of this essential charitable giving incentive,” said Andrew Watt, FInstF, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “The charitable deduction is a powerful symbol of a continuing commitment to the impact and change that nonprofits create—working together with individual donors, for-profit organizations, foundations, the government and many other groups and sectors to provide vital philanthropic services and programs across the country.”

Both Senators Wyden and Thune are members of the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over tax issues in the U.S. Senate. Wyden is widely expected to replace Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)—who was nominated in December as U.S. Ambassador to China—as the Finance Committee’s next chairman.

A copy of the letter can be found here and accompanies this release.