The Chronicle of Philanthropy today highlighted a blog post from Perla Ni, a lawyer and social entrepreneur. One of Perla’s suggestions for how to “help nonprofits”:
“3) Remove Tax Deductions for Donations to the Church: Donations to the chambers of commerce, political parties, civic leagues and associations, home owners associations and union associations are NOT tax deductible. In contrast, donations to the church are tax deductible.
“Arguably for all of the above, people receive a personal benefit. Arguably for all of the above, there is a social benefit. Some would argue that donating to one’s own church is less deserving in the form of a government subsidized tax deduction than other types of nonprofits.
“Removing the tax deduction for churches would increase government revenue substantially – revenue that could be used for other kinds of social services and programs.”
Our blog readers recognize the fallacies in this argument. I don’t have time to point them all out anyway.
The important take away for our readers is to notice how much attitudes have shifted regarding church and religious charities. I wrote last week about the strong current in our culture to view the charitable deduction as a “subsidy”. Once again, Ni unapologetically assumes that dollars given to charity could be better spent by the government. It’s a trend — nay, a seismic shift — in the way our culture views the role of government and charities, especially Christian ones.
What can be done about it? I invite your thoughts. Some of my own: Pray. Vote. Be very vary of anyone calling the charitable tax deduction a “subsidy”, especially when that person is running for public office. Speak out. And finally, give now, while you can still receive maximum tax benefit.