Everyone’s favorite topic du jour: the budget. Obama’s recent budget proposal again tries to set limits on the value of a charitable deduction for taxpayers in the highest brackets. The limit actually applies to all itemized deductions (e.g. mortgage interest and charitable contributions) for households making more than $250,000. According to the OMB, this will generate $118 billion for the federal government.
This same proposal in the 2009 budget failed, partly due to opposition from charities. For good reason. We know this proposal creates a disincentive for charitable giving by an important segment of our donors.
It raises an important question, though. How much do we value the work of nonprofits in feeding the poor, taking care of orphans, preaching the gospel, feeding God’s sheep, etc.? Much attention is paid to the inefficiencies of nonprofits compared to the corporate world. But, really, who would you rather have doing this work: World Vision, City Union Mission, and the Hope Center; or the government? That’s an oversimplification of Obama’s proposal, but this question is at the heart of the issue.
Given my position at the foundation, you can probably guess how I’d answer.