On a bitterly cold December morning, many of Central Oregon's community-based non-profits came together at the behest of Oregon Senator Ron Wyden to explain why discussions of a federal tax overhaul must be sure to protect the charitable tax deduction. As the Senator noted, the charitable deduction isn't a "loophole as some have suggested, but rather a lifeline" and is unique in the tax code in that it's the only incentive meant to encourage people to do something to benefit their communities, rather than themselves.
As one of several non-profit leaders meeting with the Senator, the very diversity of groups present was a strong reminder of just how many different aspects of our community depend upon the generosity of local citizens. Whether it's social services provided to those in need, education for our children, arts that inspire, or a healthy environment that provides the very water and air which sustain us, our quality of life and the resiliency of our communities depend on the generosity and volunteerism of community members. And while generosity comes from the heart and not from a tax deduction, research confirms that the amount people can give is often driven by the deduction.
Listening to my peers and to the Senator this morning, it's clear to me that the charitable tax deduction must be off the table during discussions of a possible tax overhaul. To do otherwise risks harming our local communities and our ability to craft local solutions. If you share this perspective, please consider encouraging your Congressional representatives to sign onto the bi-partisan effort of Oregon Senator Wyden and South Dakota Senator Thune to protect the charitable deduction.