It Ain’t Over – Understanding What’s at Stake in the Charitable Deduction Debate

Monday, February 25, 2013 -
10:45am to 2:00pm EST
Philanthropy New York, 79 Fifth Ave., 4th floor, NYC
Philanthropy New York, 79 Fifth Ave., 4th floor, NYC
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After the intensity of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations and the passage of The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, many breathed a sigh of relief that the legislation did not include major changes in the charitable deduction.  But recently, Independent Sector reported that the two top Democrats on the Congressional tax writing committees say they are open to discussion on deduction caps as part of ongoing negotiations on tax reform. 
That means Independent Sector and the many organizations associated with the Charitable Giving Coalition will continue to closely monitor and deal with Congress on this issue – and continue to try to enlist the rest of us in the fight.  But do we fully understand what we’re fighting for?  How might the various proposals related to charitable giving affect foundations, nonprofits and the people the sector is meant to serve?
The income tax charitable contribution deduction is fundamentally different from the other itemized deductions Congress might seek to limit.   But the sector is constantly compromised by the language used (the deduction is a tax “subsidy” from the government) and its association with other deductions like home mortgage interest, which directly benefit to the filer. 
When it comes to sorting through the complexities and providing unflinching analysis, nobody knows the numbers and the meaning contained in the numbers better than the folks at the joint Urban/Brookings Tax Policy Center. Eugene Steuerle, Institute Fellow and Richard B. Fisher Chair, and Elizabeth Boris, Director of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, will lead Philanthropy New York members through a wide-ranging discussion that lays out all the possible scenarios and the implications for each.
In the charitable deduction debate there is another factor just under the surface of the facts that needs to be considered – donor perception.  Will particular policies change how major donors and the creators of foundations chose to direct their money?  Michael J. Cooney is a Partner at Nixon Peabody, and he will join the panel to focus on what tax attorneys are likely to be advising their clients in different scenarios.
The Century Foundation’s Janice Nittoli will help bring all these elements and your questions together as moderator for the session. 
If you’ve watched the news coverage of the debate and wondered if capping charitable deductions at 28% for high earners might be more fair, bring more funding for much needed government-funded programs and might not even effect nonprofit contributions much at all, this is a program that will help us all get closer to the “truth,” or at least more confident that we understand what we’re being asked to support.


  • What are all the moving parts in the charitable deduction debate?
  • What are the expected effects from what has already passed Congress in January 2013?
  • Is the charitable deduction debate leading to neglect of even more important issues in the budget battles likely to be beset us for years to come?
  • Should the charitable deduction be reformed to make it even more effective?
  • What if those reforms take away anything from anybody anywhere? How would charities and the sector react?
  • How might the nonprofits we support be affected by various scenarios being put forth as tax policy options now?
  • How closely do the efforts of the sector’s leadership organizations reflect the priorities of your organization?
A Philanthropy New York Member Service.
This program is "Partially Open."



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All interested funders.