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Contribution Would Give Bigger Tax Break

Everyday Philanthropist Act would deduct charitable giving from all Americans’ taxes, no longer just ⅓ of Americans

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN3)

Americans donated $410 billion to charity last year, but would you like to receive a tax break for donating to charity?

Only one-third of Americans are right now. This bill could change that.

Context

Under current law, only Americans who itemize their tax returns are eligible to receive tax breaks for donating to charities or nonprofits. Those who take the standard deduction instead are generally ineligible.

The problem is that the people who itemize their returns skew much wealthier. Only one-third of Americans itemize.

“Under our current tax code, only taxpayers in the highest tax brackets are encouraged to give back,” the Greater Give writes. “This system establishes an unfair correlation between wealth and one’s ability and desire to give back, when in fact all Americans want to have an impact on their communities.”

What the bill does

The Everyday Philanthropist Act [H.R. 6616] would create a new federal program called Flexible Giving Accounts, which would set aside a percentage of your pre-tax income to donate to charities or nonprofits.

In more practical terms, it would allow all Americans to receive a tax break for donating to charities or nonprofits.

This would be similar to other programs already in existence, such as health savings accounts or 401k retirement savings accounts.

The bill was introduced in July by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN3).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the bill incentivizes sorely-needed charitable giving through the tax code.

“Americans are the most generous charitable givers on the planet, and philanthropy is the lifeblood of countless non-profit groups that do vital work in Minnesota,” Rep. Paulsen said in a press release. “But the majority of taxpayers who don’t itemize their deductions see no tax benefit from their giving.”

“Flexible Giving Accounts will be game-changers,” Rep. Paulsen continued. “They’ll spur more giving by making it easier for American families to make regular contributions to charities of their choice and will mean less paperwork for taxpayers.”

GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any sources of outright opposition to the legislation. (Although this Washington Post op-ed speculates that it could receive a lukewarm response from the Trump administration, which has not yet weighed in.)

Odds of passage

The bill has attracted five bipartisan House cosponsors, three Democrats and two Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Ways and Means Committee.

This article was written by GovTrack Insider staff writer Jesse Rifkin.

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