Obama defends charitable deduction change

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama defended his proposal to decrease the charitable tax deduction for wealthy taxpayers.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday evening, Obama said "there’s very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving" and that the "most important thing" he can do to help charities is "to fix the economy" and "get people back to work again."

"Now, if it’s really a charitable contribution, I’m assuming that that shouldn’t be the determining factor as to whether you’re giving that $100 to the homeless shelter down the street," he said.

More than 100 Jewish organizations signed a letter to Congress last week stating that they had "signifcant concerns" with the proposal and the effect it could have on charitable organizations, although they stopped short of opposing the plan. The Orthodox Union declined to sign the letter, saying it should have included an outright rejection of the deduction change.

Obama said the new rules would affect "about 1 percent of the American people" and equalize the charitable deduction for all taxpayers. Those making more than $250,000 annually now receive a 35 percent tax deduction for charitable contributions, while everyone else receives a 28 percent deduction.

"I think it is a realistic way for us to raise some revenue from people who’ve benefited enormously over the last several years," Obama said. "It’s not going to cripple them."

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