Grantmakers in the Arts Pushes for Charitable Giving Reform

As the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to take their toll, Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) has expanded its ongoing advocacy work to consider approaches and resources arts and cultural organizations truly need for robust, equitable recovery from this crisis.

As part of this advocacy work, GIA has joined so many of our colleagues in voicing support for expansion of the $300 charitable tax deduction included in the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), and also advocated with Congressional leaders to ensure that such expansion be immediate and permanent. The provision included in the CARES Act allows any taxpayer to claim a deduction of up to $300 for donations to charities in 2020, even if they take the standard deduction. This will incentivize giving to nonprofits at a time when many Americans are struggling to keep up with their philanthropic giving.

GIA strongly believes that additional immediate relief for these organizations is needed. As such, GIA has advocated for the immediate and permanent expansion of $300 charitable tax deduction that was included in the CARES Act, such that: (1) donations on and after March 13 and before July 16 are eligible for 2019 tax filings for both itemized and non-itemized returns; (2) increasing the CARES Act $300 per filing unit cap to match bipartisan proposals for a roughly $4,000 cap for single filers and $8,000 cap for married couples filing jointly; and (3) that the eligible date for this incentive is extended so that it is permanent and not time limited.

Our current standard tax policies make tax deductions easiest only for very large philanthropic gifts. Controlling for wealth, giving participation is higher in Black households than all other groups (i.e., percentage share of population giving to charitable organizations), despite Black households holding under two percent of the nation’s wealth. For those who do give, the level of giving, measured as a share of median family wealth, is higher for Black and Latinx families than White or other families (i.e., charitable giving as a percentage share of median family wealth), despite Black and Latinx households experiencing higher rates of poverty than White households. This is not taking into account volunteerism.

This selective recognition of only large donors could reify the misperception that culture is a playground for the rich. Communities of color and low-income communities are generous, creative and culturally-rich. We need not cling to policies and practices that presume otherwise.

GIA will continue to advocate for public policy solutions and provisions which ensure that arts and cultural organizations have access to as many means of support as possible and ensure that people of all incomes and backgrounds have access to the arts and culture and have equal access to incentives for supporting arts and culture.