Thursday, July 7, 2011

TFP Column: Feeling Uncharitable

Congress, in its apparently never-ending quest to increase the debt limit on the national charge account, is considering closing some loopholes in the tax code. (Of course they ought to consider scrapping the tax code and closing the IRS instead, but that's an effort for another day.) 

Among the many suggestions not being taken off the table, is one that will end the tax deduction for charitable contributions. Apparently, like mail delivery, the government would like a monopoly at providing philanthropy. 

At a time when so many can use a hand up (not a handout), it's likely that if such a policy is passed, it will (as the title of my most recent TFP effort states) leave some "Feeling Uncharitable"

But hey, final negotiations are not complete in Congress and there's plenty of time for them to come up with an equally egregious and nonsensical solution to the problem of spending too much of the taxpayer's money. There's also plenty of time for all of you to catch up on what's going on in Toledo and NW Ohio by reading Toledo's largest circulation and Ohio's Best Weekly newspaper, the Toledo Free Press.


Roland Hansen said...

Amigo Tim,
I am wondering about tax deductions for charitable donations. If a person takes a tax deduction for charitable donation, does that mean the government is subsidizing that individual? What is the effect of all this on the person who does not file a 1040 and Schedule A but instead files a 1040 or a 1040A with no accompanying deductions? Just wondering. Is there a level playing field?

Timothy W Higgins said...


As you are well aware, there has never been a level playing field where government regulation is concerned, only better negotiated advantage.

As for the various forms that the IRS uses to enforce its mandate, there is little chance that any of us will be able to understand their overall effects when the IRS is similarly confused.

While I would concede that from a certain point of view, tax deductible charitable contributions could be seen as government subsidized charity, I see little to convince me that government is the most efficient way to collect or distribute charity.

I would also point out that some part of the role of government is to inspire good behavior in its citizens. Such a goal cannot be achieved by forced donations through taxation, while discouraging voluntary donations.

Obviously I don't have all the answers here, but there is something terribly wrong with any policy that curbs charity in this country.

Roland Hansen said...

Amigo Tim,
I appreciate, and concur with, your response to my wonderings.

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