“Pease” Provision Doesn’t Discourage Charitable Giving

January 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Despite concerns to the contrary, the recently restored limit on itemized deductions for high-income people won’t reduce the incentive for taxpayers to donate to charity, our new report explains.  Here’s the opening:

The recent “fiscal cliff” deal reinstated a limit on itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers known as the “Pease” provision, which policymakers created as part of the 1990 bipartisan deficit-reduction package but which the Bush tax cuts phased out between 2006 and 2010.  In recent days, some pundits and leaders of some charitable organizations have suggested that because Pease limits the total amount of itemized deductions that high-income filers can claim, it will reduce the incentive for taxpayers to donate to charity.  That suggestion is incorrect, however, as a close look at Pease makes clear.

As an important new paper from the Urban Institute and Tax Policy Center (TPC) shows, the fiscal cliff law’s tax provisions will increase charitable giving, not reduce it.  The analysis — whose authors include C. Eugene Steuerle, a leading expert on these issues — estimates that the new law will boost charitable giving by $3.3 billion a year, or 1.3 percent, compared to what it would have been if policymakers had extended the tax laws that were in place in 2012.  The increase results mainly from the rise in the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6 percent, which raises the value of the charitable deduction.

The Urban Institute-TPC analysis also explains that “the Pease limitation has negligible effects on the tax incentive for charitable giving” (emphasis added).  It shows that for people in the top income tax bracket, the tax benefit of making charitable donations will rise from 35 cents in less tax liability for each additional dollar in charitable giving to 39.6 cents per dollar — an increase in the tax incentive that Pease does not affect.

Click here for the full report.

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