by Alexander Reid
July 12, 2013
The charitable deduction is a negotiated bargain between citizens and the state, establishing a delicate balance of power. We have accepted limits on how much money we may contribute, on the types of property that can be given, on the arrangements that constitute a gift, on the broad sectors we may give to, and on what the recipients are forbidden to do with our gifts. But, historically and philosophically, there are more reasons to argue that the charitable deduction should be expanded today than that it should be further circumscribed. Sacrificing the charitable deduction is not a wise, safe, or acceptable means of improving today’s disastrous federal finances. The appropriation of charitable revenue by the federal government would be a profound renegotiation of the relationship between the American government and our civil society. Bluntly, such a drastic move would run counter to the entire history and spirit of American democracy.