Churches, Politics, and the Charitable Contribution Deduction
33 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2006
Churches often bear the burden of the Internal Revenue Code's electioneering prohibition without their contributors enjoying the benefit of a tax deduction. Although contributions to religious congregations may be deducted, many, perhaps most of them, are not because many of those who give to churches do not itemize their income tax deductions. In the past two years, Congress has had before it several bills that would permit nonitemizing taxpayers to deduct their charitable contributions. This Article argues that extending the deduction to nonitemizers raises important issues of tax policy that should concern religious organizations. The author contends that religious congregations will benefit from considering some of the difficult questions about the relationship of the charitable contribution deduction to the standard principles of tax policy. If they do, they might support either a deduction only above a floor or a charitable contribution credit rather than a 100% deduction for nonitemizers.
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