Politics & Government

Giving to charity might not help out on your taxes anymore. Will that hurt SC nonprofits?

White House unveils President Trump’s tax plan

The Trump administration unveiled its tax overhaul plan April 26 during the daily press briefing. White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said the plan is “the most significant tax reform legislations since 1986.”
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The Trump administration unveiled its tax overhaul plan April 26 during the daily press briefing. White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said the plan is “the most significant tax reform legislations since 1986.”

Midlands’ nonprofits are hoping changes to the federal tax law won’t discourage South Carolinians from giving to charity since many filers will no longer write off their donations on their tax returns.

Standard deductions were expanded under the 2017 federal tax law, meaning more filers will choose that larger deduction — $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married joint-filers — in April because it’s more generous, said tax economist Nicole Kaeding.

That has some S.C. nonprofits on edge — particularly those that rely on middle-income donors. They are concerned they will receive fewer donations than in past years. However, groups also say that, for the most part, people give to charity because they want to.

“If the standard deduction is bigger, you take that,” said Kaeding, the federal policy director with the Washington, D.C. think-tank Tax Foundation. “In 2017, about 70 percent of taxpayers took the standard deduction. This year, it’s estimated to be about 90 percent.”

Madeleine McGee, head of Together SC, which advocates for S.C. nonprofits, said stakeholders are watching for that potential impact.

“Everyone is watching to see what happens and hoping that giving won’t decline,” she said. “If it does, I believe leaders ... stand ready to help find a fix.”

The question, McGee said, is whether donors will change their giving behavior without the financial incentive. That’s to be determined.

So far, children’s advocacy group Children’s Trust of South Carolina said it has not seen a significant drop in giving.

“However, we recognize that it may be too early to gauge the consequences, and we are watching what this could mean for us in the future,” said Children’s Trust CEO Sue Williams.

And United Way of the Midlands also said it’s too early to tell the law’s impact given the group’s campaign fundraising season stretches until June 30.

“I’m optimistic that it won’t,” said the group’s president and CEO, Sarah Fawcett. “For the most part, people give because they believe in causes. I hope people do continue to give regardless of the tax law or its impact.”

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Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.
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