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Senator Lankford Introduces Universal Charitable Giving Bill

WASHINGTON, DC –Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today introduced the Universal Charitable Giving Act, which creates a universal charitable deduction in addition to the standard deduction for individuals and married couples that do not itemize. Currently, only taxpayers that itemize their deductions are able to withhold charitable donations. The Universal Charitable Giving Act incentivizes charitable giving for low-income to middle-income taxpayers. This will encourage the continued growth in giving through charitable donations from a larger base of taxpayers, including lower-income and middle-income earners.   

“As Congress continues to discuss plans to provide tax relief to millions of hardworking American families, we should also take the opportunity to make it easier for taxpayers to deduct donations from their taxes for donations they gave throughout the year,” said Lankford. “The government should not be the ultimate solution to the social problems we face as a nation. Individual communities, families, citizens, and charitable and faith-based organizations in our society should be supported to meet the needs of those who need a helping hand. This bill will allow Americans to give to the thousands of charitable and faith-based organizations across the country that assist in times of need. All Americans should be offered the same incentive and tax benefit to give for what they believe in, not just the wealthy. I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to seriously consider this proposal as part of the tax debate.”

Congressman Mark Walker (NC-06) introduced the House companion bill on October 5, 2017. 

“With tax reform, we not only have the opportunity to simplify our tax code and bring needed relief to low and middle income families, but we also have the chance to encourage support for the charities doing amazing work in our communities,” said Walker. “This legislation would expand incentives for charitable giving to people at every income-level, not just the most wealthy. I commend Senator Lankford for his efforts in helping us support the great work of faith-based and charitable organizations.”

Universal Charitable Giving Bill:

  • Above-the-line deduction up to one-third of the standard deduction, approximately $2,100 for individuals and $4,200 for married couples
  • Allows taxpayers to deduct charitable giving regardless of itemizing status
  • Incentivizes charitable giving for low and middle-income taxpayers
  • Does not change tax provisions for individuals who itemize
  • In FY2017, roughly 71 percent of tax expenditures for charitable giving will be claimed by taxpayers who earn $200,000 a year or more 
  • Doubling the standard deduction will likely lower the number of itemizers and likely decrease charitable giving incentives for non-itemizers