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JFNA joins array of charities testifying in favor of deduction

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish organizational officials were among more than 40 nonprofit officials testifying in Congress in support of keeping the charitable tax deduction.

Congressional officials are considering changes to the tax code to raise revenue and have targeted tax loopholes. Republicans have championed curtailing the charitable deduction; the Obama administration wants to lower the deduction from 35 percent to 28 percent.

William Daroff, the top Washington official for the Jewish Federations of North America, was among those who testified Thursday before the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. He said the charitable deduction was critical in funding Jewish relief programs.

"It is crucial to recognize that the charitable contribution deduction is the only provision in the income tax law where an individual must ‘give away’ income or assets in order to receive a deduction," Daroff said in prepared testimony. "This selfless act must be promoted by the tax code and is fundamental to the social contract the binds individuals, charities, and the government.

"Proposals to limit the value of the charitable contribution deduction, place a dollar cap on total tax deductions, or transform the charitable deduction into a credit with artificial floors and ceilings would result in less giving and therefore cripple charities that strive to remain at the forefront of the fight to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick," Daroff said.

Also testifying Thursday was Diana Aviv, one of Daroff’s predecessors in representing the federation system in Washington, and now the president of Independent Sector, a lobby for non-governmental groups.

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