Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

December 31, 2012

Givers should not be treated like corporate welfare seekers

Everyone should be upset that the president and Congress are wanting to cap charitable deductions.

Charities are very concerned and sent 250 representatives to Washington to talk members of Congress out of one of the worst ideas to help avert the fiscal cliff.

Giving is not a loophole like accelerated depreciation of corporate jets.

For starters, the ability to deduct gifts to charity has been around for almost 100 years. The fact that it was included in the tax code just a few years after the federal income tax was established points to the fact that it was a respected American practice and not added so that friends of those in power could escape government obligations like in this lobbyist-fueled government era.

Individuals would be better off financially by keeping their money and paying taxes on it than giving it away and getting a partial write off on their taxes.

Besides, it is a terrible idea to discourage Americans from giving back to the community at a time when government of all types is increasingly replacing the work civil organizations used to provide and when so many need a job and are struggling.

And a cap means that charities that depend on government for their existence will have more of an edge fundraising if private giving goes down as a result of tax changes.

But it's revealing that we have reached a point in our culture where a deduction for giving to charity is considered a "loophole" just like accounting that can allow oil companies, for example, to buy crude at a range of prices but pay taxes on their profits from selling it as if every barrel was bought at the latest, most expensive price.

The president, who has tried to cap deductions with practically every bill he has submitted, and a willing media are chief proponents of branding giving as a vehicle for the rich to avoid paying their fair share. But that label is patently unfair. Studies show middle class Americans donate a larger percentage of their income than the wealthy, with religious faith driving a lot of giving.

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