Friday, February 27, 2009

Nationalizing charities?

Over at Reason's Hit & Run, Jacob Sullum has already pointed out an interesting facet of President Obama's tax changes, but I think it's worth highlighting. From The Washington Times:
Democrats and Republicans poured cold water on President Obama's budget plan to cut down on wealthy taxpayers' charitable giving tax deductions, the second of his ambitious cost-savings plans to earn lawmakers' scorn, and underscoring the legislative minefield he is entering. ...

Roberton Williams, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said it's impossible to calculate the exact effects of all the tax changes, but said the overall result is clear - less philanthropic giving.

"This will lead people to give less to charities if they behave the way they've behaved in the past," he said. "We've already seen a drop in giving as a result of the economic collapse. On top of that, this will just reduce the amount of giving."

Asked about that, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said Mr. Obama took care of that by giving charities government money to make up part of the difference.

"Contained in the recovery act, there's $100 million to support nonprofits and charities as we get through this period of economic difficulty," he said.
Not that I'm a huge fan of social engineering through the tax code, with a deduction for this, that and the other righteous cause to encourage us all to do supposedly good deeds. But isn't this a move toward cutting a major part of civil society -- private charitable organizations -- off from their sources of independent support and making them dependent on the good will of government officials?

Oh, and I'm sure the tax dollars will be directed by politicians to precisely the same recipients that each and every one of us would have chosen of our own free will ...

It's plausibly deniable, of course, since private individuals could keep giving at old rates and private organizations could refuse government money, but the overall effect will be to strengthen the power of the state without ever twisting an arm -- outside the oh-so-gentle enforcement of the tax code, of course.

Labels: , ,


Blogger akaGaGa said...

From a Christian perspective, I have to wonder how "charitable" the giving is in the first place, if it requires a tax deduction to make it happen.

March 7, 2009 2:27 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home