The Catholic University of America

 

Professor Roger Colinvaux Testifies Before
Senate Finance Committee on Charitable Giving

Catholic University law school professor Roger Colinvaux was among a panel of experts invited to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on Oct. 18 as it considered proposed changes under the tax code to deductions for charitable giving.

Colinvaux, who formerly served as legislation counsel to Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, authored many of Congress' recent changes to laws affecting tax-exempt organizations.
 
The Obama Administration has proposed capping deductions for charitable giving at 28 percent for taxpayers who pay the current top tax rate of 35 percent.
 
That is the group that provides the majority of charitable giving in the country, and many panelists and committee members were outspoken in their skepticism of the proposal, fearing it will lead to diminished giving to charitable causes and the nonprofit sector in general.
 
“I am deeply concerned that the deduction for charitable giving is under quiet assault,” said the committee’s ranking minority member, Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R-UT). “The options that target charitable giving are concocted by those who, hungry for more taxpayer dollars to finance reckless government spending, are now casting their sights on the already-depleted resources of charities and churches,” he said.
 
While acknowledging the critical role that charitable giving plays, especially in the current economic climate, Colinvaux’s remarks were non-partisan in tone and mostly confined to analysis of some of proposals being floated.
 
He noted that some of the recent ideas put forth relating to tax treatment of charitable giving amount to a tax credit, as opposed to a tax deduction.  
 
 “A credit would be a dramatic change from present law. My own view is it shouldn’t happen without a broader discussion of what the public benefit of charitable giving is or should be,” Colinvaux said.
 
He also suggested that not all tax-exempt charities should necessarily be eligible for tax-deductible contributions.
 
“The focus on any such examination should be on whether existing rules are maximizing the public benefit at the lowest cost to taxpayers,” he said in a written statement.
 

The committee’s hearing is unlikely to settle the debate over whether proposed changes to the tax-deductibility of charitable giving are fair, or will result in less giving in the future.