Charitable organizations contribute greatly to the well-being of our society; the COVID-19 pandemic has only underscored the importance of the role that such entities play in providing essential services to people in need.
Sadly, however, the current crisis has also inflicted serious harm to nonprofits of all types, disrupting both sources of operational revenues and steams of contributions, and, in many cases, even threatening the ability of vital charities to continue operations altogether.
While there are many actions that Congress can take to prop up these vital groups, one simple step that might provide significant benefit at a low cost would be to allow people and businesses making donations now – in 2020 – to deduct those contributions on their 2019 tax returns.
Congress has already extended the 2019 tax filing deadline from April 15th to July 15th, and is likely to extend it even further. Allowing all contributions made in 2020 before the final deadline for 2019 income tax filings to be deducted on 2019 returns would benefit all involved.
Now would be a great time to pass such legislation. Summer camps around the nation are cancelling their 2020 sessions, and, in the case of the many nonprofit camps serving our nation’s children, organizations that depend on camp tuition to cover their year-round expenses are asking parents to convert portions of already-paid tuition into donations. Many such payments were even made in 2019 – so why not allow people to be deduct contributions in the year that they were actually made?
For many people, the ability to deduct contributions in 2019 rather than in 2020 is not just a matter of benefiting from an earlier tax savings – it is a matter of a dramatic reduction in the cost of giving charity. While it may seem at this point like a fleeting dream, 2019 sported a booming economy with record low unemployment; many people and businesses will be in higher tax brackets for 2019 than 2020, and many folks may take the standard deduction in 2020 rather than itemizing (and, thereby, limit their 2020 charitable deduction to $300), making significant 2019 charitable deductions far more valuable for them than (potentially even worthless) 2020 deductions.
And, of course, the true benefit to society of increasing the giving of charity is far greater than just financial – allowing such deductions could help amazing organizations alleviate many more people’suffering as well as improve society in other ways.
From a political standpoint, the legislation that I am proposing should also be non-controversial: the only people and businesses who would benefit from such legislation would be those contributing to charity, and the benefit that they derive would be directly proportional to their donations.
Congress – Please act.