The Real War on Christmas: GOP Rejection of Tax Rise on Rich could End Tax-Break for Charitable Giving

Many worthy institutions in the United States, from universities and cancer research centers to soup kitchens, art galleries and public radio, are supported by donations from private citizens. One of the motivations for this charitable giving is that it typically reduces one’s tax bill. In essence, the government allows us to steer a certain amount of our taxable income away from the government and toward a good cause of our choosing.

The rich give much more than anyone else to these institutions. It just is not clear if they would give as much if there were no tax benefit. But millions of ordinary citizens also donate.

Americans donate about $300 billion a year to their favorite charitable causes. About 70% of that comes from individuals.

The provisions of the “fiscal cliff,” looming as of January 1, could well eliminate tax breaks for this giving as a way of raising revenue for the Federal government. But this step would only be necessary if the GOP continues to block any increases of taxes on the wealthy. (The Obama administration wants to cap the tax deduction, but if the GOP continues to obstruct tax rises for the rich, it could go away altogether.

Conservatives such as Bill O’Reilly at Fox Cable News have been pushing a phony complaint about a supposed ‘war on Christmas’ for years. Apparently they are upset that many companies, institutions and individuals say “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas, in order to be inclusive of Jewish Americans and the other non-Christian religions that make up 5% of the population, as well as of the 14% of Americans who say they have no religion

But will they be upset that the GOP was so opposed to the rich paying their fair share of the nation’s tax burden that they allowed the country to go over a fiscal cliff that may drastically reduce charitable giving.

Isn’t charitable giving in the spirit of Christmas? Indeed, without it isn’t Christmas no more than consumerism and selfishness?

Isn’t the end of the tax break for charitable donations the real war on Christmas?

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7 Responses

  1. I suspect Republicans hope the backlash from a denied farm bill, which reportedly will push milk to $6 a gallon, and a over taxed middle class will revolt, putting Obama in the bulls eye. Come 2014 and 16 Republicans will remind the public of the crisis caused by the democrats because of their zest to raise taxes on poor Rush Limbaugh and Rupert Murdoch.

    Public be damned, this is a dangerous political ploy being played out by the tea party Republicans to damage the Democrat brand.

  2. Given that 32% of these contributions go to religion, it would appear that the GOP is waging a war against religion in general, and against Christianity in particular (since most of the 32% is likely Christian).

  3. Good riddance. If these charities are so “worthy” then people will give without the added incentive of a government subsidy.

    • Now now, Effem, we must believe as Americans that any charity is more efficient and well-intentioned than any socialistic scheme of big government, so starving the latter to force-feed the former must be a virtue. Not only that, but the Christian Right for decades has been teaching its inner corps that the rich should pay lower taxes than the poor, because the rich must make better economic decision otherwise they wouldn’t be rich (!). Therefore, it is entirely consistent for the right-wing movement that rich people should have total freedom to control the country with their spending, tax breaks, and donations to charities that promote… the right-wing movement!

  4. The question: “Isn’t the end of the tax break for charitable donations the real war on Christmas?” is not a particularly effective way to end the article.

    First, a donation that depends on tax breaks for its existence is not completely charitable.

    Second, such breaks–while perhaps giving others some choice in where they imagine their dollars are spent–also transfer the tax burden of necessity to others, many of whom have less of a choice (choices require capabilities and the investment of time. We all do not enjoy the same luxury of leisure).

    Rather than allowing the claim for deciding how their money is spent by making tax deductible contributions, we can dispute that such a claim is positive in that said claim gives our money to their favored charities as some portion of every donation is a tax deduction actually paid involuntarily by the collective, reimbursement of taxes that have to be made up in some way–more taxes.

    Synthesizing these two points: It does not speak well of us as caring individuals or a society if we have to be compensated in part in order to “give”.

    Any of us could chose to say that we don’t care to support the religion of others where some of our tax dollars are used to compensate the choices of individual others outside of the realm of our representatives’ choices. That is, others can, by the same logic, claim to pay more taxes than they should have to simply because some others are reimbursed with tax dollars to support their religion and other IRS qualified “charities”.

    We would all prefer not to pay taxes. We would all prefer to target our tax dollars. Most of us would prefer immortality. Reality. Sorry.

    The reality of course is that donations will diminish if the tax deductions go away. Thus, there are some arguments that can reasonably be made against doing away with said tax deductions–such as the possible impact on employment and, in some cases, the poor who, in order to survive, depend on a few charities that have stepped up to fill social responsibilities no longer addressed adequately by the government, presumably because it cannot afford to do so.

    But, to answer the question: Tax deductions for charitable giving have nothing to do with the spirit of Christmas (or similar happenings among most other religious groups).

  5. Most tax brakes for charitable givings are claimed by the rich, and unless you give a certain minimum amount each year, there is no tax break at all. So, these tax brakes is a way for the government to subsidize charities that the rich favors, rather than government programs that the voters favor. It would be great if tax brakes for charitable givings disappeared.

  6. They will kick the poor in the face, the only difference is whether it’s in boots with or without hobnails. I mean, these are people that protect drug cartel bankers.

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