The recently passed Senate bill denies individuals to itemize their deductions and get a tax exemption for donations to nonprofits. This deals a crushing blow to Jewish institutions and Jewish life as a whole, in the United States. It is estimated that this bill will reduce charitable giving by as much as $20 billion dollars a year. Jewish schools and organizations, already struggling with the high expenses of Jewish life, cannot afford this blow.
CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits issued a statement saying:”The House and Senate had the opportunity to create a tax bill that would benefit every American, but every significant choice they made creates more harm than good. Their tax cuts scheme would undermine the ability of charitable nonprofits to serve our communities. Changes to the tax code would drastically reduce charitable giving by as much as $20 billion every year. The bills touted as job creators will put up to 264,000 nonprofit employees out of work. And by reducing revenue by more than a trillion dollars, the bills inevitably will lead to massive spending cuts at all levels of government, growing demand for nonprofit services while at the same time nonprofit budgets are shrinking.”
This blow with be especially devastating to the fast-growing orthodox community who counts on nonprofits for so many things from private Day School education, to synagogues, advocacy groups, chronic illness support groups, volunteer paramedics, and so much more. It is also likely to deal a blow to many households employed by Jewish nonprofits who will are likely to be some of the 264,000 nonprofit workers, finding themselves out of work.
An immediate decrease of 3% in charitable giving is expected, which seems to be small on a grand scale, yet for already struggling nonprofits, a 3% cut can be devastating.
To make things worse, the current tax plan hits hard at homeowners in the states of New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California–the most Jewishly populated states in the US. This makes it less likely for people to afford many of the expenses that come with Jewish living, as well as being predictive of a likely decline in available capital and people’s ability to donate.
This also means that many Israeli charities who operate through American based nonprofits can see the numbers of donations go down significantly.
One exception to this negative development is a last-minute amendment added by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) which will “allow parents to use a special tax-free college savings account to pay tuition for private K-12 schools.” This provision is especially meaningful to Jewish day school parents and has been long desired by private education advocates.
Jewish schools, synagogues, individuals, and organizations should brace for impact and pray that the lowering of cooperate tax lead to corporations decided to donate to schools and synagogues. Short of prayers there does not seem like there is much to do about this.