Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today led 30 of his colleagues in sending a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate urging them to oppose any amendments to the health care reform bill that would limit the existing tax deduction for charitable donations. Earlier this year, the Senate passed Senator Thune's amendment to a budget bill that would have preserved the charitable deduction in full, but it was removed from the final budget measure during conference negotiations with the House of Representatives.

"The American tradition of charitable giving is particularly important in difficult economic times," said Thune. "People do not give to charity because it results in a tax break, but reducing the deduction would likely lead to a reduction in giving nationwide. With many families struggling today, such a limitation would come at a very bad time."

The independent Giving USA Foundation recently reported that the decline in total charitable giving in 2008 was the greatest drop the group has ever observed since it began tracking charitable donations in the U.S. in 1956. Senator Thune's letter emphasizes that a reduction in the charitable giving tax deduction would likely decrease charitable giving further.

"A reduction in charitable giving would have a particularly harmful impact on not-for-profit hospitals and other charity health care organizations. A limitation of the charitable tax donation has no place in any health care reform proposal," Thune said.

President Obama proposed reducing the charitable tax deduction as part of his Fiscal Year 2010 budget proposal. Additionally, several amendments that included a cap on the charitable tax deduction were proposed during the Senate Finance Committee's markup of the health care reform bill.

Senator Thune is joined in sending the letter by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Kit Bond (R-MO), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim DeMint (R-SC), John Ensign (R-NV), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), James Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), David Vitter (R-LA), George Voinovich (R-OH), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

The full text of the letter follows:

We Must Support America's Charitable Sector

November 4, 2009

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in protecting the full value of the charitable deduction by opposing any amendments to the health care reform bill that impose a cap on itemized deductions.

Currently, taxpayers earning more than $200,000 (and families earning more than $250,000) annually can take itemized charitable deductions at a rate equal to their marginal tax bracket (33 percent or 35 percent). There have been a number of recent efforts to reduce or cap the value of itemized deductions at 33 percent or 35 percent for taxpayers whose income tax brackets will increase to 36 percent or 39.6 percent in 2011 - therefore, separating the itemized deduction and tax rates for the first time in almost 100 years.

Most people do not make charitable donations solely in the interest of receiving a tax break, but Congress has long used the tax code to encourage charitable giving. During times of crisis, such as the natural disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 Midwest flooding, Congress passed charitable giving incentives to make it easier for Americans to give donations and support to nonprofits serving individuals, families, and communities in need.

Any caps on charitable deductions will send the wrong message to our nation's charities - including schools, museums, art and music centers, hospitals, places of worship and hundreds of thousands of social service nonprofits that serve those in need. These are the organizations that play a central role in educating, healing and enriching all of our home states and communities. As such, during debate of the FY 2010 Budget Resolution, 94 Senators voted in favor of protecting these charities and the full charitable tax deduction (Vote No. 138, 111th Congress).

Now is not the time for Congress to underestimate the challenges confronting our nation's charities. The Giving USA Foundation recently reported that the decline in total charitable giving in 2008 was the greatest drop since it began tracking U.S. charitable donations in 1956. This year, charities report that donations will likely be down even further. Analysis of a slightly larger reduction of the charitable tax deduction proposed earlier this year predicted that charitable giving would fall by another $8 billion to $16 billion annually.

We are confident that Americans will continue to be generous with their time and money to help the less fortunate, but the federal government must remain dedicated to encouraging private acts of charity and compassion, especially when our charities and the people they serve are facing so many challenges.

We hope that you will join us to preserve the full value of the charitable deduction and ensure that the unique American tradition of giving remains strong.