Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and John Thune (R-SD) this afternoon offered an amendment to the Senate Democratic budget that they claim will protect the charitable tax deduction from elimination or restriction under the tax reform sought by Democrats. In reality, though, the amendment is a simple bait-and-switch attempt to reduce the budget’s overall revenue levels and would have no bearing on the charitable deduction.
The Democratic budget, authored by Washington Sen. Patty Murray (D), includes $975 billion in new revenues over the next decade to be gained through the closure of tax loopholes and elimination of tax expenditures that benefit the wealthy and corporations. The charitable deduction is among the most popular expenditures on both sides of the partisan spectrum, making it the perfect candidate for Blunt and Thune’s ploy.
The purpose statement at the top of the amendment reads:
To protect charitable organizations from being used as a source of revenue to pay for more spending by protecting the deduction for charitable giving from being capped, limited, or eliminated to pay for new spending as part of any tax increase.
Aside from that totally meaningless sentence that has no legislative significance, the amendment does not mention the charitable deduction. Instead, it simply cuts revenue levels for each year between 2014 and 2023. In total, the amendment would cut the amount the revenue originally sought by the Democratic budget roughly in half. It would have no impact on the charitable deduction, one way or the other, and would not in any way protect the tax break for charitable giving. The amendment, despite what Thune and Blunt would have people believe, is nothing more than a massive reduction in the budget’s revenue goals masked as protection of a popular tax deduction.