Friday, Apr 10, 2020

Christians Urge Congress to Incentivize Charitable Giving in Relief Package

As coronavirus spreads, churches, charities, and other non-profits face declining donations and rising demand for help.

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As churches and faith-based nonprofits brace for a painful drop in contributions, Christians are lobbying for Congress to incentivize charitable giving in its response to the spread of COVID-19.

Lawmakers spent Saturday negotiating the $1 trillion-plus relief package. The current Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, proposes offering stimulus checks, relief for small businesses, and some changes to charitable giving. The bill would allow taxpayers to claim a charitable deduction for up to $300 without itemizing.

But some from the faith community are speaking up to say that’s not enough to keep churches and other non-profits afloat as demand for social services spikes.

“This level of stimulus does not scratch the surface for what charities, nonprofits, and houses of worship need during this time of crisis,” wrote the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is calling for a two-year universal deduction for charitable giving, with no cap.

The Center for Public Justice (CPJ) in Washington made a similar recommendation, saying the universal deduction should be effective immediately. Many charities had been pushing for a change in the charitable deduction since before the coronavirus outbreak; because of tax reform enacted in 2018, fewer Americans get to claim their charitable contributions, thereby reducing giving.

CPJ’s Rachel Anderson and Stanley Carlson-Thies also argued that since faith-based organizations are involved in caring for those put at risk by the pandemic, they should not be exempt from unemployment insurance or reimbursement for mandated leave.

“Religious communities have sprung into action, sustaining …

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