Today, in His State of the Union Address, President Clinton Will Unveil a Package of New Tax Proposals to Encourage Philanthropy. First, he will propose allowing nonitemizers to take a tax deduction for charitable giving. Second, he will propose new rules to make it easier for charitable foundations to make gifts in times of need. Third, he will propose making it easier for individuals to donate appreciated assets like securities and real property. Last October, the President and First Lady convened the first-ever White House Conference on Philanthropy. The conference highlighted the unique American tradition of charitable giving, and emphasized that at a moment of great prosperity, we must preserve and expand this tradition. Today's proposals, which cost $14 billion over 10 years, will help do just that.
Enabling Nonitemizers to Take a Tax Deduction for Charitable Contributions. Currently, 70 percent of taxpayers do not itemize and as a result, they cannot get the tax incentive for charitable giving that higher-income itemizers can claim. The President's budget will allow these taxpayers to claim a 50 percent deduction for charitable contributions above $500 a year when fully phased in. This proposal will boost contributions to charitable organizations, particularly community and faith-based groups, and improve tax fairness by giving nonitemizers the same opportunity to deduct contributions as itemizers.
Making it Easier for Foundations to Give in Times of Need. The President's budget will allow more funds to reach those in need by simplifying and reducing the excise tax on foundations. Foundations currently face a two-tier excise tax: first, a 1 percent tax on investment income; second, an additional 1 percent tax for foundations that do not maintain their rate of giving over a five-year average. This mechanism is unduly complicated and can reduce giving in certain cases, since boosting gifts in times of need exposes foundations to higher taxes if, after the need has passed, their rate of giving drops back to earlier levels. The President's new proposal will eliminate the two-tier system and set the excise tax rate at 1.25 percent. The result of this simplification will be to remove a disincentive to foundation giving and to make available more gifts to community organizations in times of need.
Allow Greater Contributions of Appreciated Property to Charities. The President's budget will also make it easier for individuals to donate appreciated assets like stocks, art and real estate. Under existing law, individuals donating appreciated assets can take a tax deduction that is limited to 30 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI); for gifts made to private foundations, the deduction is capped at an even more stringent 20 percent AGI. These multiple limitations are complex and can place burdens on individuals who choose to give substantial portions of their incomes to charity. The President's budget simplifies and eases these limitations by increasing the AGI limit on appreciated property from 30 to 50 percent, and the limit for donations of appreciated property to private foundations from 20 to 30 percent. This change will create greater incentives for such gifts.
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October 27, 1999
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