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A reward for giving generously – now at risk?

December 25, 2012

Charities take in billions of dollars each year from Americans who claim tax deductions for their contributions. Will Congress eliminate this practice?

Americans are historically charitable at the end of a calendar year. It’s no mystery why; those contributions are then claimed as tax deductions.

Charities took in $317 billion from all sources in 2009. Individual Americans gave $170 billion to charities in 2008. Donation levels vary widely, depending on household income and even what part of the country you live in. At the uppermost reaches of individual donors, for example, you’ll find Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who gave $372 million to charities in 2011.

This “win-win” arrangement for charities and taxpayers is under renewed scrutiny, however – as Congress seeks more revenue. Those tax deductions are estimated to save Americans about $40 billion that would otherwise go to Uncle Sam.

Check out our infographic for more on charitable giving. See “What Do Others Say?” for more perspective, then add to the discussion below. Should Congress eliminate tax breaks for charitable donations? Would Americans continue to be as generous if it does?