A newly formed coalition of religious charities has mounted a campaign to persuade members of the Senate to preserve the deduction for charitable donations as part of a tax reform bill due to be submitted by the end of the week, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.
The effort to craft the legislation is being led by Senate Finance Committee chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who wrote in a letter to their fellow senators in June that they planned to approach the process "with a 'blank slate'" and would recommend only keeping tax breaks that are proven to "(1) help grow the economy, (2) make the tax code fairer, or (3) effectively promote other important policy objectives." In face-to-face meetings last week, representatives of the Faith and Giving Coalition — which was formed by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions and the National Christian Foundation and includes World Vision, the Salvation Army, and the National Association of Evangelicals — assured committee members that the charitable deduction meets all three conditions.
"We feel it's important that members [of Congress] hear from the faith-based community because of the importance of private giving to what we do," said Steven Woolf, senior tax policy counsel at the Jewish Federations of North America. "Those are the dollars that really drive our organizations. Some get as much as 90 percent of their revenues from private giving."
"When you read the letter that says they're starting with a blank slate," said Jonathan Imbody, vice president of the Christian Medical Association, "that's enough to get you going....If you want something included you'd better speak up."