WASHINGTON (JTA) — Charitable contributions supporting social safety are "more important today than ever," the Jewish Federations of North America said in a statement opposing any reduction in tax deductibility for the gifts.
Lowering the deduction for charitable contributions is being discussed as part of federal budget talks.
“We will work with our national and local coalition partners to make sure that elected officials recognize how charitable contributions support the social safety net that is more important today than ever,” said David Brown, chair of JFNA’s human services and public policy council, in a statement issued Wednesday.
“Financial contributions are the lifeblood of our ability as a nation to serve the most vulnerable among us,” added William Daroff, JFNA’s vice president for public policy and director of its Washington office. “When many of our neighbors are still in severe economic distress and when Hurricane Sandy clearly shows the need for charities to lead where the government cannot, it is the absolute wrong time to place a stumbling block in front of our ability to help those in need.”
JFNA has been at the forefront of efforts to ensure that charitable deductions remain in the nation’s tax code.
Separately, Jewish leaders joined a faith-based coalition making the case in congressional meetings on Thursday against cuts to social safety net programs.
"The religious officials reminded lawmakers that the deficit was caused as a result of inadequate revenue, an unnecessary level of military spending and a recession that has pushed even more people into poverty," said a statement released on behalf of the groups, which also included Muslim and Christian organizations. "They warned that significant cuts in any budget deal to vital humanitarian and poverty-focused assistance programs such as International Development, Disaster Assistance and Food Aid programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, low-income housing assistance, Head Start, and other initiatives, could result in increased poverty."
Among the Jewish leaders at the meetings were Josh Protas, the director of government affairs for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center.
“It is simply not acceptable that deficit reduction might increase the burden on those struggling the most in our communities," Saperstein said at a news conference before the meetings in congressional offices. "It is intolerable that debt reduction should come on the backs of the poorest among us, that it increases poverty or inequality.”