by Robert Donachie
Nonprofits and other charitable organizations are seeing a significant uptick in donations this December, a phenomenon that many are attributing to changes the Republican tax bill will bring in 2018.
A handful of nonprofits and charitable entities are reporting record donations in December, with some seeing nearly double the donation levels of typical Decembers, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The likely reason for the seemingly unprecedented increase in last-minute donations centers on changes Republicans made to the standard deduction — a provision of the tax code that works to ensure all taxpayers are somewhat shielded from federal income tax.
The Republican tax bill President Donald Trump signed into law doubles the standard deduction for single and joint filers. Doubling the standard deduction, experts argue, is likely to make filers who currently itemize their deductions switch to using the standard deduction.
More filers using the standard deduction could be a problem because IRS code stipulates that filers can only “deduct charitable contributions” if they “itemize deductions.” Effectively, the fear is that more filers using the standard deduction will mean less money in the hands of nonprofits, churches and other charitable entities.
Charities are also reporting marked increases in interest for donation vehicles that allow donors to take the tax break for charitable giving up front but disperse investments over a number of years. The idea here is that donors get the maximum tax deduction under the current law and distribute the investment over a longer timeframe.
Decembers are always common months for charitable giving. The Christmas season brings out the best in those with money to spare, and the impending end of the tax year causes many to seek last-minute tax breaks.
Experts caution that the total value of 2017 December donations won’t be known for some time, but they do fear a massive drop in donations in 2018 and beyond.
If there is a decline in charitable giving going forward, that would be a serious change for the American people.
Americans give two percent or more of the entire nation’s Gross Domestic Product every year to charitable organizations and causes. American individuals and families gave $390.5 billion to charity in 2016, a 4.2 increase from 2015. U.S. corporations and foundations increased their charitable donations 3.5 percent in 2016.
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