The numbers, as they say, do not lie. Two out of every three Americans (67%) surveyed by the United Way are opposed to reducing the charitable tax deduction, and nearly 80% of Americans believe reducing or eliminating the charitable tax deduction would have a negative impact on charities and the people they serve. Of those who indicated they would reduce their own charitable giving if the tax deduction changed, the majority (62%) say they would likely decrease their contributions by 25% or more. Since Americans gave more than $300 billion to organizations across the charitable spectrum in 2012, a reduction of one quarter of those funds could be more than $75 billion.
That is a lot of money to lose: money that comes directly from programs that provide food, healthcare, education, shelter, and other services to communities across the country. Clearly, the nonprofit sector represents a vital American infrastructure that should not be taken for granted.
These changes would affect art museums as much as any other set of nonprofits--and compromise museums' abilities to provide crucial services. That is why AAMD is joining forces with the Charitable Giving Coalition, a group of more than 60 nonprofits, foundations and other charitable organizations, to make sure lawmakers have a clear understanding about what is at stake. With the myriad proposals to reform America's tax code and fix our budget problems, surely there are better solutions than tampering with the charitable tax deduction. We must work together to find them.
With programming that serves constituencies from veterans, to children with Autism, to seniors suffering from Alzheimer's, art museums provide rich and layered experiences offering different ways to interact and intersect with objects and the stories that rest within them. Virtually all art museums provide multi-disciplinary education programs serving K-12 schools. Most of these programs help develop creativity and critical thinking-crucial qualities for America's future success. Art museums also provide educational support to colleges and universities, and most also serve families and pre-school students. Altogether, American art museums serve more than 40,000 schools nationwide.
Decreasing the value of American philanthropy will cause great harm not only to the nonprofit organizations themselves but to the people and communities they serve, by increasing unemployment and reducing vital educational, health, social, and cultural services nationwide. We strongly urge Congress to reject the proposed 28% cap to the value of deductions for charitable gifts--and, further, to reject any other proposal to cap or limit the value of the charitable tax deduction.