Biden’s Tax Proposals Cause Reason for Concern About Charitable Giving

Biden’s Tax Proposals Cause Reason for Concern About Charitable Giving

Nov 06, 2020 The Philanthropy Roundtable

Executive director of Alliance for Charitable Reform Sandra Swirski wrote a letter to the editor at The Chronicle of Philanthropy expressing concerns about how Joe Biden's tax plan could affect philanthropy. You can read the full text, published by the Chronicle on Nov. 6, below. 

To the Editor:

In the Chronicle’s article “Biden’s Tax Plan Would Steer Aid to the Poor but Could Deter Some Wealthy Donors From Giving” (October 28), the author points to several proposals to hike taxes that Joe Biden and other top Democrats (even if Biden isn’t elected) will push for early next year. We should be concerned that these proposals will pause charitable giving at best and suffocate it at worst.

Why? Uncertainty about one’s own finances quite naturally makes you more cautious about committing to spend money you may not have, including giving to charity. Most people give based on the size of their wallets, and Biden’s tax increases will certainly downsize those wallets.

For that reason, it’s worrisome that one of the commentators in the article urges charities to take it all in stride. He asserts that even if higher taxes mean less charitable resources for organizations, there’s no need to worry because government will benefit from higher taxes and will make it up to them (or at least their beneficiaries).

What happened to the independent sector and the great American tradition of charitable groups banding together in self-reliance to solve a problem using ideas and ingenuity apart from government or in the face of government? We have the greatest democracy on the planet because of this tradition. So is the suggestion to turn a blind eye to government bulking up at the expense of charities? I hope not.

More than a decade ago our sector came together as the Charitable Giving Coalition and beat back similar presidential proposals that would have caused a decline in charitable giving, and they should not stand down today or risk being on a slippery road to dependence on government.

And the American people agree. In a national poll conducted in 2015, an overwhelming number believed private charities are much better at stretching a dollar than government, and more chose private charities over government as their preferred problem solver. I suspect the same would be true in spades today.

Sandra Swirski
Urban Swirski & Associates
Washington, D.C.