NEW YORK (Dec. 6)
The Council of Jewish Federations has sent a memorandum to each of its constituent Federations pointing out that some suggestions for revising the federal income tax system, as unveiled at a press conference by Treasury Secretary Donald Regan, could have a severe impact on charitable contributions to public service agencies, a CJF spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The CJF has thus joined a wide range of religious groups, universities, foundations, cultural institutions and associations providing services to the needy, which are bombarding the Regan proposals which could cut sharply charitable giving.
Mark Talisman, director of the CJF Washington office, said this week that the Treasury plan, which would sharply reduce income tax deductions for such contributions, underscored the need for a public policy debate on income tax revision.
Talisman said, “we understand what a budget squeeze means and the need to increase revenues, but human values also are important. We cannot be exhorted to take up the slack in providing for people and at the same time have our fund-raising tools removed. That’s the bottom line.”
The CJF spokesman told the JTA that the CJF is maintaining consultation with other umbrella agencies for organizations which depend largely on charitable contributions to implement their programs such as the United Way.
The spokesman said the CJF was studying the situation, planning to make clear to the Reagan Administration and Congress “our concern with ideas which might imperil charitable giving.”
CJF MIGHT TAKE FURTHER STEPS
The CJF spokesman said that if such Treasury proposals as limiting deductions for charitable contributions to amounts exceeding two percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income, and repealing the 1981 legislation which permits charitable deductions for taxpayers who do not itemize deductions moved beyond the current stage, the CJF would take further steps.
He said Talisman had simply made a public statement of concern but had not made a direct approach to either the Administration or the Congress at this stage.
The spokesman said the CJF memorandum also indicated that the CJF was monitoring the proposals at this early stage and would keep the Federations informed.
The experts said that while the Regan proposals would most certainly not be submitted as a package for legislation, the possibility could not be ruled out totally that some elements of the Regan proposals — including the sharp cuts in exemptions for charitable giving — might emerge in legislation as the Reagan Administration and the Congress grappled with tax revision, if the whole idea is not detailed by federal officials and Congressmen insisting on budget-balancing measures having first priority.
For one thing, President Reagan will submit his proposals for such tax revision in his State of the Union address in January. There are two tax revision bills which have been introduced in the House, which differ with the Regan proposals, as well as with each other, in many respects. Finally any tax revision bill must be acceptable to the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee, a fact which could generate problems for any tax revision bill which has Republican backing.
Despite these indications of a long and rough legislative gauntlet ahead for any tax revision measure, the CJF and similar agencies are gearing up for a major effort to head off any prospects of tax law changes which might bring sharp cuts in charitable giving that could cripple their public service programs.