Rationale and Changing the Charitable Deduction

8 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2013

See all articles by Roger Colinvaux

Roger Colinvaux

Catholic University of America (CUA) - Columbus School of Law


There are two principal rationales for the charitable deduction. Depending upon choice of rationale, some tax reform changes are suggested and others are not. A base measurement rationale suggests eliminating the deduction for unrealized appreciation, keeping the benefit as a deduction and not a credit, not adopting caps or a nonitemizer deduction, and protecting the tax base by narrowing the class of organizations eligible to receive deductible contributions. A subsidy rationale, depending upon which strand is emphasized, might favor a more equitable tax benefit in the form of a credit or through caps or a nonitemizer deduction, and could lead to preferring some organizations over others. Both rationales are consistent with placing a floor under the deduction, and narrowing its scope. Present law presents a confusing mix of policies and priorities. Tax reform presents an opportunity to reconsider the role of the charitable deduction in the tax system and to act accordingly.

Keywords: charitable deduction, tax reform, subsidy theory

JEL Classification: H2, H20, H24, H4, H5, I00, I10, I20, I30, L3

Suggested Citation

Colinvaux, Roger, Rationale and Changing the Charitable Deduction. Tax Notes, Vol. 138, No. 1453, 2013, CUA Columbus School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-9, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2244915

Roger Colinvaux (Contact Author)

Catholic University of America (CUA) - Columbus School of Law ( email )

3600 John McCormack Rd., NE
Washington, DC 20064
United States

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