While I am not in a position to dispute the statistics offered by Irwin Stoolmacher’s Interchange article “Assaults on Charities”, I would suggest that if he’s going to use them as a platform to bash Donald Trump, he might reference such stats as they might have occurred on Trump’s watch. All of the ones he cited took place before Trump even took office!

I would also make a couple of other observations:

1.) Stoolmacher claims that the increase in the federal income tax standard deduction to $24,000 for couples will “reduce the number of low- and middle-income taxpayers who itemize and take the charitable deduction, which was a key incentive for charitable giving.”

Oh, really? Irwin, you know damn well that such people don’t itemize in the first place because they rent and have no mortgage interest or property tax deductions to claim. On the other hand, the increase in the standard deduction is a blessing to such people who cannot afford to own or choose not to own their homes.

2.) “Estimates are that this drop in giving would cost 220,000 to 264,000 nonprofit jobs.”

So the whole point of charity is not to help the sick and the poor, but to provide (well-paying?) jobs in the nonprofit sector?

3.) The “assault on charities” comes from the left too, because the left doesn’t want such services provided privately when government should have a monopoly on them. That explains why Catholic adoption agencies have steadfastly stood by their religious beliefs and ceased operations rather than place children with same sex couples.

What bothers me most about Stoolmacher’s position is that it is formulated under the assumption that charitable contributions should be made only when subsidized by a tax write-off. That is truly ugly, and undermines the whole principle of charity — to help the less fortunate without asking anything in return.

But don’t worry, Irwin. Both New Jersey and New York are trying to figure out how to make state and local taxes into “charitable contributions” so that they can continue to be deducted from income for federal tax purposes. Heh. Good luck with that one.

— Howard Hirsch

The writer, a retired utility regulatory economist who lived in Ewing while working for PSE&G, now lives in Henderson Harbor, NY.

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