The GOP Tax Bill Could Cost Nonprofits Billions

November 23, 2017

Regardless of where you get your news, you’ve probably heard about the GOP’s controversial Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Many of the conversations surrounding the bill have been centered around what it could mean for individual taxpayers.

But you may not have heard much about what the bill means for nonprofits, the institutions that make up the vast majority of the dance world—from cultural giants like New York City Ballet to dance service organizations like The Actors Fund.

The bill is extremely complicated, but thankfully Dance/USA helped us tease out some of the ways that the current Senate legislation could impact funding for nonprofit arts institutions:

Doubling the standard deduction:
Though this would decrease the amount of taxes owed for some individuals, it could cost nonprofits billions. With a higher standard deduction, it is estimated that only five percent of people would itemize their deductions (which is done in place of taking the standard deduction, and allows you to deduct things like charitable contributions and business expenses). This is expected to reduce charitable giving by a whopping $13 billion a year.

Increasing the limit on charitable gifts:
This is one of the potentially positive aspects of the bill for nonprofits. It would increase the limit on charitable gifts from 50 percent of adjusted gross income to 60 percent. This would likely only affect donations from very high-income donors.

Eliminating the Pease Limitation
: Similarly, this provision could potentially increase giving among very high-income donors. The Pease Limitation currently limits how much charitable giving (and other itemized expenses) can be deducted.

Doubling the estate tax exemption:
This would likely reduce the amount of charitable gifts included in estates, because wealthy individuals would be able to leave more (up to $10 million) to their heirs without paying estate taxes.

There’s still time to urge your representatives to pass a more arts-friendly bill. Here’s what you can do:

Advocate for a universal charitable deduction:
Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have proposed an amendment that would allow taxpayers to deduct their charitable contributions whether they itemize or not. Contact your representatives (in the Senate and the House!) and ask them to support this provision.

Ask your representatives to vote “no”:
The GOP wants to have legislation on the President’s desk by Christmas. Tell your representatives that you want them to vote “no” on any bill that could cost nonprofits billions in funding.