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December 19, 2012

Opinion: Economic Growth, Not Tax Break, Will Drive Charity

Nonprofit groups fearing that changes in tax rules will depress donations should be lobbying for lower rates rather than for preserving the charitable deduction, the head of a free-market think tank writes in The Wall Street Journal.

Kimberly Dennis, president and CEO of the Searle Freedom Trust, cites studies showing that for decades, U.S. giving has remained relatively static as a proportion of disposable income and GDP, regardless of shifts in tax policy. The best way to boost charity, she argues, is to lower tax rates so donors have more disposable income, and to focus on fostering economic growth.

"The resulting prosperity would do much more for charities than preserving their own special carve-out from a punitive tax structure," Ms. Dennis writes.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on nonprofits' stances on raising income-tax rates for high earners.