Nonprofits fear fiscal cliff effects

By: Christy Dimond Email
By: Christy Dimond Email

Non-profits nationwide fear tax credits for charitable donations may be under threat from the fiscal cliff.

Charitable deduction is the federal government's ninth largest tax expenditure in the federal budget, according to the Congressional Research Service. If the government cut charitable write-offs, the report estimates the government would save $52 billion in 2014.

But for non-profits that rely heavily on private donations, the risk is huge.

"The [funding] is declining, which indicates to me that they expect more participation from individuals in local communities to fill that gap, and then to not give people incentives to do that is going to create a lot more problems down the road if it goes through," said Marilee Langfitt, Vice-President of Public Relations and Development for Mesa Developmental Services.

Every year, Langfitt said Mesa Developmental Services has a $300,000-$500,000 deficit, and relies solely on private, individual donors to fill that gap. She fears doing away with charitable deductions could results in as much as a 50 percent decrease in donations.

"There's a lot of debate whether people give out of the goodness of their heart or if they give because they need the tax credit, and I think there's certainly both that goes on," Langfitt said.

Others believe the number of people donating to help the community, exceeds those who make donations for the charitable deduction.

"We really believe the charitable deduction is the icing on the cake," said Julie Hinkson, Executive Director for United Way Mesa County. "The cake itself is the real desire on a donor's part to make a difference in their community and give where you live."

For long-time donor Barry Barak, charitable deductions won't affect his annual contributions to local non-profits.

"The reason for giving is not dollars and sense driven, it's kind of internally given, so that doesn't go away if a tax break goes away," Barak said.


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