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Despite TCJA Critics, Charitable Giving Reached Near All-Time High in 2019 

June 22, 2020

Charitable giving surged in 2019, flying in the face of then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi predictions of “Armageddon” due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. News reports amplified concerns that TCJA would be the end of charitable giving as we know it.

Now we know. These reports were wrong. Here are a few examples:

The Los Angeles Times: The GOP tax reform will devastate charitable giving “Unfortunately for nonprofits, the new rules are going to discourage charitable donations…. We know we can’t change the world, but we can change lives. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will only make it harder.”

Washington Post: Charities fear tax bill could turn philanthropy into a pursuit only for the rich: “Many U.S. charities are worried the tax overhaul bill signed by President Trump on Friday could spur a landmark shift in philanthropy, speeding along the decline of middle-class donors and transforming charitable gift-giving into a pursuit largely left to the wealthy.”

PBS: “How the GOP tax plan delivers a blow to charitable giving”: “The tax-code overhaul that Republican lawmakers approved and Trump is expected to sign into law will raise the price of charitable giving for millions of Americans, surely reducing how much money the nation gives.”

Despite grim predictions, charitable giving rose to a near-high in 2019, according to Giving USA’s annual survey.

The foundation found that giving rose to nearly $450 billion in 2019 to U.S. charities.

“The solid growth of giving in 2019 brought total giving close to the record level set in 2017, which means that the past three years are the three highest years on record. Clearly, Americans prioritize generosity as a key part of their lives,” Rick Dunham, chair of Giving USA Foundation and founder and CEO of Dunham + Company said.

“Giving increased substantially in 2019, ending the decade on a high note. While it’s too soon to tell what that will mean in the uncharted territory we all find ourselves in today, these estimates provide an important baseline for understanding where giving stood at the outset of the current crisis.”

Gifts by individuals increased nearly 5 percent. Foundations’ giving rose 2.5 percent. And giving by corporations increased 13.4 percent.

Americans gave to a number of different causes throughout the year. Religious institutions, educational entities, health organizations, arts and humanities, environmental organizations, and human services all saw an uptick in philanthropy.

Did the GOP tax reform devastate charitable giving? According to the data: NO. Charitable giving continued to surge as TCJA strengthened the U.S. economy.

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