House Passes America Gives More Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the America Gives More Act of 2014, a package of bills to extend a number of giving incentives for charities. “This legislation is a big win for those who are served by the nonprofit community, which in one form or another, is much of the country,” Joanne Florino, senior vice president for public policy for The Philanthropy Roundtable, said via a statement.

The package, H.R. 4719, is a combination of five measures. Four of them are existing, temporary giving incentives that were allowed to expire on December 31, 2013. The America Gives More Act will make them permanent and retroactive to that date. The fifth will take effect in 2015.

“The charitable giving provisions contained in H.R. 4719 are…an extremely efficient and cost-effective way for the federal government to spur investment in our communities,” according to a release from the Washington, D.C.-based Independent Sector, issued ahead of today’s vote.

“When an individual in the highest tax bracket donates $1,000 to charity, the government forgoes just under $400 in tax revenue,” continued the statement. “However, communities benefit from the entire $1,000 gift. Congress is unlikely to find another vehicle that can leverage private spending for community services at better than a 2.5-to-1 ratio.”

The first measure increases the deductible limit of food donations from 10 to 15 percent, and guarantees fair market value regardless of demand. The second allows individuals aged 70.5 or older to make gifts from their IRAs without incurring withdrawal penalties. The third allows a deduction to be taken for a conservation land easement.

The fourth measure would allow gifts made until the individual tax filing deadline, April 15, to be deducted in the prior year’s taxes. “This bill would also spur charitable giving by allowing the donors to have a complete knowledge of their financial standing for the tax year, specifically for small business owners and entrepreneurs,” said Sandra Swirski, executive director of the Alliance for Charitable Reform, based in Washington, D.C., in a statement.

The fifth item, which will take effect in 2015, reduces an excise tax on the investments of large private foundations (PF) from a rate of 2 percent to 1 percent. “Streamlining the PF excise tax has been a top priority for ACR for several years,” Swirski said via the statement.”

The bill passed 277 to 130 with mostly Democrat objection. All but one of the 222 Republicans voting (11 did not vote) went for the bill and were joined by 56 Democrats. Democrats voting no numbered 129.