Nonprofit Leaders Express Concern About Clinton College Tuition Plan

The Charitable Giving Coalition, Association of Fundraising Professionals, and other groups have expressed concern that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's proposal to make college affordable would be funded in part by limiting the value of itemized deductions, including the charitable deduction.

Clinton's proposal for a ten-year, $350 billion public-private partnership to provide debt-free tuition at public four-year colleges, make community colleges tuition-free, and lower student loan interest rates is centered on a $200 billion federal incentive system for states that calls for "closing tax loopholes and expenditures for the most fortunate." While the proposal does not specifically target the charitable deduction, nonprofit leaders fear the cost of the proposals would be partially offset by capping itemized tax deductions for the wealthiest families at 28 percent.

In a statement released to the public, the Charitable Giving Coalition, a consortium of nonprofits and advocacy organizations, urged the former U.S. senator and secretary of state to reconsider how the proposal would be funded. "The charitable deduction is different than other itemized deductions in that it encourages individuals to give away a portion of their income to those in need," the  coalition said. "It rewards a selfless act, and it encourages taxpayers to give more funds to charities than they would otherwise have given. The proposed cap would have long-lasting negative consequences on the charitable organizations upon which millions of Americans rely for vital programs and services." The coalition announced in July that it would contact every presidential candidate in the 2016 election cycle and urge them to support full preservation of the charitable deduction in its current form.

AFP is "concerned with the proposed funding mechanism that effectively diverts money away from charitable causes," said president Andrew Watt said in a statement. "We advocate for more thoughtful consideration of any funding mechanism that could negatively impact charitable giving. The proposed cap on deductions represents a potential loss of $80 billion in charitable contributions over a ten-year period....The overall effect of this proposal on charitable funding, and the impact it would have on programs, is massive and represents a huge step backwards for philanthropy in our country."

"We are disappointed that Secretary Clinton has instead chosen to frame her response to one problem with a proposal that will cut a lifeline to those most in need," Joanne Florino, senior vice president for public policy at the Philanthropy Roundtable, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. "We urge her to reconsider her plan and protect the full scope and value of the charitable deduction."

"CGC Asks Hillary Clinton to Reconsider Cap" Charitable Giving Coalition Press Release 08/12/2015. "Clinton College Plan Damaging to Philanthropy." Association of Fundraising Professionals Press Release 08/11/2015. Alex Daniels. "Nonprofit Leaders Fear Clinton College Plan Would Limit Charitable Deduction." Chronicle of Philanthropy 08/11/2015.