With Christmas over, it’s now time to get down to business and develop a strong agenda for 2018. At the top of that agenda for progressive donors, in my opinion, is repealing the Trump Tax that recently passed. This legislation does more to hurt the middle class and nonprofits than can be tolerated in a society that still prides itself on equality and freedom.
Here are just a few choice details about how this law will deter giving for the middle and upper middle class. The law’s discouragement of itemized deductions by raising the standard deduction for married couples to $24,000, is estimated to reduce the number of itemized tax returns from the current 30% to only 5%. That means only 5% of people will have enough charitable and other deductions to qualify for itemizing their taxes. This change strikes a devastating blow to families in the $70,000 to $200,000 income level, who often stretch their giving in order to qualify for the charitable tax exemption at $12,000. Between the mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction, some middle class families would be able to qualify for the $12,000 deduction threshold. By giving an extra two or three thousand or more, they are often supporting nonprofits in the community (their local church, food bank, or domestic violence shelter) getting a tax break, too.
As a member of the Episcopal church for the past two decades, I imagine many of the families we have known throughout the years qualified for itemized deductions the same way we did. But now that is no longer. It would be impossible for us, on our income, with a daughter in college, to qualify for the $24,000 deduction threshold. We are no longer part of the giving class that can get a tiny break on their taxes by giving more to nonprofits.
Experts are estimating this tax bill will strike a devastating blow to churches, as well as many other local nonprofits that depend on that middle class and upper middle class donor, who were incentivized to give by the previous tax code.
Corporations including AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, and others, came out with distracting news about how they are going to give bonuses and raises because of the new tax bill and the $1 trillion windfall they expect.
Progressive donors: pay no attention to those distractions. We need to stay on task with our own agenda.
So what should progressive donors, and particularly progressive women donors do? It’s time to pull out all the stops.
- Collectively, progressive women donors and the nonprofit sector should come together to strategize on how to get the tax law repealed. Newly established alliances such as The Emergent Fund might be good places to grow a nexus of support and strategy to get the Trump Tax repealed.
- Other important allies need to be brought in as well, including political alliances that will work to bring both the House and the Senate back under democratic control.
- Give more than ever before to the causes that promote civic engagement for all. The more people we can bring to awareness about the way this tax law will impact them negatively, the more pressure they can exert on their elected representatives.
- By now, it should go without saying here at Philanthropy Women, but progressive donors should #FundWomen — meaning plow funding into women-led organizations that are influencing systemic change in representation for our democracy. A particularly good organization to join and support is the Women Donors Network, which has done much of the legwork in exposing the lack of representation in our elected leadership. Other organizations like Higher Heights, which has a specific targeted mission of electing more women of color, is another safe bet for spending your donor dollars effectively.
- Electing more progressive women leaders will be a double win for working to get this tax law repealed and working to get our culture more focused on health care, education, and workforce development. That means we all need to get out and distribute flyers and go to rallies and do all those other things that promote democracy and voter engagement.
Other thoughts about what we need to do now to start the tax law repeal, please share below!