WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) led senate colleagues this month in introducing the bipartisan Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act to expand and extend the current deduction for charitable giving.
The senate bill would ensure that Delawareans who donate to charities, houses of worship, religious organizations, and other nonprofits are able to deduct that donation from their federal taxes at a higher level than the current $300 deduction. In the COVID-19 relief package passed in December 2020, an extension of the $300 charitable deduction was included for 2021.
Specifically, the bill would make available to taxpayers who do not itemize on their tax returns—for tax years 2021 and 2022—a below-the-line deduction for charitable giving on federal income taxes valued at up to one-third of the standard deduction (around $4,000 for an individual filer and $8,000 for married joint filers).
"Seeing the need in their communities, the American people have stepped up by giving to food banks, community groups, and other nonprofits," Sen. Coons said. "People of all means want to be part of the solutions in their community—solutions often driven by charities and houses of worship—but our tax code ignores the giving of most Americans. If more Americans were acknowledged for and supported in their donations, there would be more giving, period. Our bill, the Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act, would substantially increase the emergency charitable giving incentive to adequately reflect the magnitude of goodwill that so many are showing."
"In the last year, we have seen the powerful impact that nonprofits and houses of worship have on our communities and how they continue to help our neighbors in the toughest times. They are the local safety net when families need an extra hand," Sen. Lankford said. "In a world that has changed significantly in the last year, we have seen more than ever the need to encourage giving to local nonprofits and houses of worship to support their selfless service to those in need."
"Every day we see the value and benefit of nonprofit work in lifting up people and helping our communities," said Sheila Bravo, President & CEO of the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement. "We support the Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act, as this bill provides an important reminder and incentive for Americans to give generously. We thank Senator Coons and his colleagues for their leadership and their ongoing efforts to champion nonprofits who step in to provide relief and support community needs in many different ways."
"We are grateful for the generous hearts that have stepped up to help Easterseals and other nonprofits survive the last year, but the reality is it will take the nonprofit sector years to recover from the pandemic," said Ken Sklenar, president/CEO of Easterseals Delaware & Maryland's Eastern Shore. "Easterseals wholeheartedly endorses Senator Coons' legislation to incentivize charitable giving. It shows that he understands that all gifts, large or small, are appreciated, and all donors should be rewarded for their giving."
"From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, through today, thousands of Delawareans have been digging deep and reaching out to help one another. I am certain that this outpouring of support has saved lives across our state," said Michelle Taylor, president and CEO of the United Way of Delaware. "The Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act will foster the charitable giving that fuels this ongoing work. I cannot imagine a more effective way for government to encourage charitable giving, and I join with my colleagues across the nonprofit community in urging Congress to act quickly to pass this legislation."
"Nonprofit organizations across the country are struggling to help their clients rebuild their lives. The Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act, and a resulting increase in donations, would greatly help nonprofits meet the increased demand for their services and pay for unbudgeted operational expenses they continue to incur," said Basha Silverman, CEO of Jewish Family Services of Delaware. "This bill would encourage philanthropy at a time in history that it is most needed. Thank you, Senators Coons and Lankford, for recognizing the challenges nonprofits are facing as they continue to lift up our communities."
The Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act was introduced in the Senate on March 9 by Senators Coons and Lankford. It is cosponsored by Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.V.).