With the specter of Congressional hearings and an eye on the charitable sector’s revenue streams, a majority of Americans want the charitable deduction left out of negotiations on how to reduce the nation’s debt, according to the results of a new survey.
Some 75 percent of respondents value the deduction at 35 percent, with 61 percent indicating they feel “strongly” about maintaining the current deduction. That number is up from the January 2012, when 56 percent of respondents said they thought that way.
Only 9 percent strongly disagree that the deduction shouldn’t be changed, up from 5 percent a year ago.
The results were part of the national study by Dunham+Company, a Plano, Texas, fundraising consultancy and was part of Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research’s January Omnibus Study of 1,000 adults nationwide. All respondents were contacted via Random Digit Dialing methodology. Interviews were conducted via live telephone interview Jan. 10-13, 2013. A sample of 1,000 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
The support for the charitable deduction appears to run across all geographic areas, with 70 percent of those in the Northeast and West supporting it, 76 percent in the Midwest and a high of 80 percent in the South. The key groups that helped elect President Barack Obama also indicated that they either agreed or strongly agreed with protecting the charitable deduction:
- Women: 72 percent;
- Ages 18-34: 74 percent;
- Hispanics: 75 percent; and,
- Those earning $50K to less than $75K: 78 percent.
“The support for protecting the charitable tax deduction among the American public continues to be exceptionally strong,” said Rick Dunham, president and CEO of Dunham+Company. “Regardless of household income, education, age, race, or gender, Americans do not want the deduction to be hurt in any way as Congress and the administration debate how best to deal with our national debt crisis.”
The reason these respondents are rallying behind the deduction is clear, he said. According to the survey, 59 percent of those surveyed feared that capping the deduction at a lower rate or eliminating it all together would cause a drop in donations. Recent studies across the sector already indicate that charitable giving is on the decline. For instance, the most recent Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report, which is based on overall giving data from 3,144 charities across America, indicates that for 2012 there was only a 1.7 percent increase in giving, and this is against inflation of 2.1 percent, meaning there was no real growth in charitable support.
White House staff and members of Congress are working to replace the sequester – automatic budget cuts to domestic and defense spending – with new, more targeted spending cuts. Democrats and President Obama are insisting that any deal must include revenue from tax reform. Presumably, some of this revenue would come from capping the charitable deduction which, under Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code, provides a deduction to the nearly one-third of taxpayers who itemize their deductions for charitable contributions.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) has called a hearing on the charitable deduction for Thursday Feb. 14. Representatives from the nonprofit sector have been invited to testify to the Committee about how limits to the charitable deduction would impact nonprofits.
You can find read the full results from the survey at http://www.dunhamandcompany.com