O.U.: Budget provision would harm charities (UPDATED)


The Orthodox Union is expressing "grave concerns" over a provision in President Obama’s budget that it says would be harmful to charities. It would reduce the charitable deduction that taxpayers making more than $250,000 can take from 35 percent to 28 percent. Here’s the O.U.’s full statement:

Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, expressed grave concerns about one aspect of President Obama’s federal budget proposal, released today, which, the Union says, will harm charities across the American landscape.

The President proposes that taxpayers earning more than $250,000 will have their ability to deduct contributions to charities reduced from a rate of 35% to a rate of 28%.   (Thus, for example, a person making a $10,000 contribution to a charity would, under the Obama proposal, receive a tax deduction of $2800, as opposed to $3500.)  (The budget proposal would also reduce the rate of deduction for individual taxpayers earning more than $164,500.)

Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Orthodox Union, issued the following statement:

The Orthodox Union, like so many in America’s nonprofit sector, is gravely concerned over President Obama’s budget proposal to reduce the rate of deductability for charitable contributions.  The tax deductability of charitable contributions is, apart from a person’s generosity of spirit, the most powerful tool America’s charities possess to raise funds that enable them to serve their brothers and sisters.

Even in good economic times, a proposal such as the one put forth in the President’s budget would adversely affect America’s charities.  In these distressed times, in which charities are serving more people’s needs while at the same time already suffering a dramatic downturn in donations, the proposal to reduce the rate of tax deductability for contributions is a recipe for disastrous displacements and cuts in much-needed non-profit sector institutions and services.

We know from his speech last summer in Zanesville, Ohio that President Obama appreciates the critical role nonprofits play in American society.  We therefore appeal to him to immediately remove this aspect from his budget proposal to Congress.  Absent that, we intend to work with our partners across the nonprofit sector and in Congress to ensure that charities are not harmed in next year’s federal budget.

While we are distressed by the issue discussed herein, the Orthodox Union commends President Obama for issuing a bold and honest budget plan which seeks to address so many of America’s pressing needs.

Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic gets a reponse from an administration official on the issue, who says that the administration is simply trying to bring the charitable deductions wealthy taxpayers receive in line with what the rest of Americans get:

"Right now, if a middle class family donates a dollar to their favorite charity, they get a 15-cent deduction, but Warren Buffet and Bill Gates make the same donation and they get a deduction that is more than twice that.  The proposal walks that back some of the way because it’s time that everyone is responsible for our future."

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