Senate Bill Screws Non-Profits.

As many of you know, I serve on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Railroad Passengers—now known simply as the Rail Passengers Association. RPA is a non-profit 501(C)3 organization whose mission is to advocate more and better and faster passenger trains.

It is the simple truth that RPA would not exist without the dues and the monetary gifts we get from our members, especially around this time of the year. Our members support us because they believe in our mission and—let’s face it—to a lesser degree because their gifts are tax deductible.

We’re now hearing some details of the proposed new tax code being proposed by Senate Republicans. It ain’t pretty.

First, the bill eliminates the deduction for charitable gifts. That, of course, does away with an important incentive for ordinary taxpayers to support local charities and other non-profit organizations like ours. And since fewer contributions mean fewer deductions, the net result would be an increase in the amount of taxes paid by the typical household.

But wait … there’s more! The Senate bill also doubles the amount of the standard deduction, from $12,000 to $24,000. It’s estimated that will reduce the number of Americans who itemize their returns from a third of all taxpayers down to just five percent. Of course one of the reasons people itemize their tax returns is to claim deductions for contributions to non-profit organizations like ours, so . . . well, you get the picture.

Bottom line: The Association of Fundraising Professionals estimates that this could mean a drop in giving to charities and non-profit organizations like RPA by as much as $20 billion a year and that number could be even more because the Senate bill is also proposing to eliminate the estate tax.

Seriously … what the hell are they thinking?