On December 22, 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – the first comprehensive tax reform passed since 1986, under President Reagan. While charitable deductions have been preserved, some non-profit organizations are concerned about a potential drop-off in donations next year. An interview with Steve Taylor, Senior Vice President for Policy at United Way Worldwide.
Traynham: The new federal tax law has dramatically changed the tax benefit of charitable giving, raising concerns about a possible drop-off in donations next year. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Robert Traynham. Joining me discuss the tax code and the reaction in the non-profit community is Steve Taylor. He´s Senior Vice President for policy for United Way Worldwide. Steve, welcome to the program.
Taylor: Thanks, Robert. It´s good to be here.
Traynham: I think it´s important to set this up. If memory serves me correctly, the last time that we had comprehensive tax reform was back in 1986. Ronald Reagan was president. And so, a lot of things have changed since the Congress passed their sweeping tax-reform bill and President Trump signed it into law. So the reason I say that, Steve, is because there are a lot of people out there, quite frankly, who do not remember tax reform, so this is a huge, huge deal. My question, specifically, is, what does it mean for the non-profit, philanthropic community?
Taylor: Well, it turns out that tax reform is going to have some pretty dramatic impact on charities. It´s not intentional, we don´t think. Congress actually went out of their way to preserve the charitable deduction. It turns out, though, that a lot of the other changes they made will significantly limit the number of people who will actually have access to the charitable deduction.
Traynham: Do you think that was intentional or do you think that was just an honest mistake?
Taylor: I really think it was an honest mistake. You know, we have a lot of support on Capitol Hill -- Republicans and Democrats. Everybody wants to support charities. A lot of policymakers have histories with charities in their communities and so, generally, I think there´s a lot of support for us, so it´s hard to believe that it was intentional.
Traynham: So, my ears on Capitol Hill -- many members of Congress will often go back and rewrite a law. It´s called a "technical fix," if you will.
Traynham: Is it safe to assume that perhaps maybe members of Congress -- in a bipartisan way, Steve -- may "fix" this bill from a technical standpoint?
Taylor: Well, we hope so. There´s a lot of politics on Capitol Hill right now. Things are so complicated. There was so much work that went into passing this tax bill. Lots of folks are really leery of reopening it, but the reality is that there are just a lot of little things, a lot of little tweaks that need to be fixed. We have a couple of champions on the Hill that have recognized what´s going to happen as a result of the tax bill, and they´re helping us try to get a fix in there.
Traynham: And do you anticipate, just for the folks that are watching at home or perhaps on their smart device or perhaps in their non-profit office, sometime this year, maybe early part of 2018 or perhaps maybe in 2019?
Taylor: Well, we´re hoping for sooner than later. If we can get the fix in this year, then that will largely mitigate any damage to charitable giving. The longer this problem remains in the tax code, the longer we expect charitable giving to go down, and nobody really wants private charitable giving to go down in the U.S.
Traynham: Steve, my assumption is that most people in America give because they care. Perhaps maybe there is some type of personal connection to an organization, whatever the case may be, do you think that will change under this tax law or, quite frankly, do you think some people just give for a tax break?
Taylor: Well, I think that very few people just give for the tax break. You know, we have this strong tradition of philanthropic giving in America that goes back hundreds of years. People in America are really generous. People in America are -- they´re the most generous people in the world, as far as wanting to contribute to their communities and just help people, so those are the main reasons that people give. The charitable-giving incentive just allows people to give a little bit more. So we´re not talking about people, you know, deciding not to give to charity anymore because of the tax change. We just know that they´ll give a little bit less.
Traynham: Steve, in the few seconds that we have left, for the folks that are watching, how can they get involved? Let´s say I´m a small non-profit in Dayton, Ohio, or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or perhaps I´m a large non-profit in L.A. Doesn´t matter. How can they and/or we get involved to engage lawmakers, to tell them that this is a very important thing that needs to be fixed?
Taylor: Right. I think the biggest challenge is that a lot of lawmakers aren´t aware of this problem. They were talking about trillion-dollar changes, and these are -- seems like a lot, but like single-digit, billion-dollar issues, huge issues for the community, so everybody should be letting their member of Congress, their U.S. Senators -- let them know about this problem and ask them to help fix it.
Traynham: Steve Taylor, Senior Vice President for policy at United Way Worldwide. Thank you very much for joining us.
Taylor: Thanks very much, Robert.
Traynham: And, of course, thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Robert Traynham. ♫♫
As the Special Olympics celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018, we take a look back at the early days, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver created a backyard summer camp for people with intellectual disabilities. Today, there are 4.9 million Special Olympics athletes from more than 172 countries.
The LGBTQ fight for equal rights became organized in 1969, after the riots at New York City's Stonewall Inn. LGBTQ civil rights activist and author Mark Segal has been involved in the movement from its beginning. Mark joins Robert Traynham for a candid and intimate discussion about his life, his role in the fight for equality, and the state of LGBTQ rights across America and around the globe. Mark is the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News. Interview recorded on May 17, 2017.
The Asian American Pacific Islander community makes up six percent of the U.S. population, but is growing more than four times as rapidly as the total U.S. population. Asians are the largest group of immigrants to enter the U.S. as immigrants. A conversation with Janelle Wong, Senior Researcher at AAPI Data about the fastest-growing but one of the understudied racial groups in the United States.
The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games will be hosted this summer in Seattle, with more than 4,000 athletes and coaches representing 50 states and the District of Columbia. Jason Schriml of the Special Olympics USA Games discussed the impact the games and this organization that highlights athletes with intellectual disabilities through highly competitive sports, uplifting experiences, and demonstrating inclusion for all.
Preparations are underway for the 2020 United States Census. A fair and accurate count of all communities is of major importance, as data gathered is used to determine federal funding, congressional representation and more. For some populations, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the process can be of concern due to immigration status, language barriers and fear of providing personal information. John Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC joins Robert Traynham to discuss the importance of an accurate count, especially for the AAPI population in America.
Filipino Americans make up the third largest subgroup of Asian Americans today, with millennials comprising nearly a quarter of this population. And while there about 4 million Filipino and Filipino Americans living in the U.S today, this population is underrepresented in political and leadership roles. Brendan Flores, National Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations joins Robert Traynam to discuss the welfare and well-being of Filipino Americans and efforts to strengthen the personal and professional development of young Filipino Americans.
Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing demographic groups in the country. And while this population engages locally within communities, there is a lack of civic engagement at the federal level. Gregg Orton, National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans shares efforts to encourage more engagement from this population not only to advocate for the needs of the AAPI community, but to add diversity to representation and the national dialogue.
There is a current trend toward incivility dominating public discourse in the United States. A grassroots campaign is working to reverse that trend, encouraging civility to improve collaboration, compromise and productivity in legislative bodies. Jody Thomas, Executive Director of the National Foundation for Women Legislators discusses efforts by NFWL and partnering organizations to encourage civil discourse for elected officials.
In 1974, Kathy Kozachenko was elected to the Ann Arbor City Council in Michigan, becoming the first openly gay or lesbian candidate elected to public office in the United States. Forty-four years later, representation stands at 539 elected officials who openly identify as LGBTQ, holding public office from municipal to federal levels. While this number is at an all-time high, this population remains underrepresented at just 0.1 percent of all elected official nationwide.
Ruben Gonzales, Vice President of Leadership Initiatives at the LGBTQ Victory Institute, joins Paul Lisnek to discuss efforts to increase the ranks of LGBTQ elected officials and create a national network to help further LGBTQ equality through the organization’s “Out for America Census Project.
Kansas state legislators put their ideologies to the side and worked together to stabilize the Kansas Budget. Kansas State Senator Jim Denning, Majority Leader of the Kansas State Senate discusses the successful bipartisan effort.
Interview recorded November 30, 2017.