NEW FEDERAL TAX LAW WON’T SPELL DISASTER FOR LONG ISLAND’S NON-PROFIT CHARITIES
Most donors on Long Island usually give to the charity of their choice based upon their support of the organizations’ mission, reputation and their personal interest in a specific cause. Long Islanders are very generous to organizations they trust, who communicate their successes to donors on a regular basis, and those who have a history behind them of making a difference in the lives of people in need. In fact, at the end of the year, many donors don’t think about itemizing their deductions to charities when filing their taxes. They donate willingly because they’re charitable, and it’s one way to bestow this value upon their children and other family members. Long Islanders volunteer their time to local charities, write checks that they can afford, donate clothing and food because they care about people who might be struggling and have less than they have.
The new tax law passed by the majority in Congress and signed by the President offers charitable donors two choices: itemize your contributions or take the overall $24,000 tax deduction. It also offers significant tax relief for the highest earners, including corporations. Since becoming law, many corporations across the United States have turned part of their new tax reductions into bonuses of up to $1,000 for each of their employees in an effort to stimulate the economy. At the same time, corporations are seeing additional profits to their businesses because of the lower tax rates on their corporation. Major companies on Long Island with long records of charitable giving like Henry Schein, Bank of America, and PSEG-LI are not about to abandon their commitments to the community or the charities they give to. It’s possible that some companies might re-evaluate what they give to and instead of sponsoring a golf outing or dinner, they might focus on supporting activities that help people directly where they can see measurable outcomes. I believe that the same will hold true for individual donors.
People who write annual checks to charities they trust will continue to write them but, might be more specific in relation to the use their donation. Those donors who are among the highest earners should have additional income as a result of the new tax law, and I believe that they will continue to give to charities as they do, and might even increase their giving if they feel that a charity might be negatively impacted by the new tax laws. One thing I’ve learned over forty years of working in the non-profit sector on Long Island is that, Long Islanders are passionate about giving to causes they support whether it’s programs that provide services to people with disabilities, Veterans services, children’s education, animal welfare, or a food bank that has been feeding the hungry for 38 years.
Will some people reduce their contributions? Yes, but it will be because they haven’t received the tax break that someone earning $500,000 or more received, or because their tax break which is time limited, needs to help with everyday expenses or unforeseen emergencies. While some of my colleagues will disagree with my assessment, and that’s perfectly fine, I’m keeping my faith in Long Islanders. Charitable organizations need to be comfortable in who they are and what they have accomplished. Organizations will need to continue to compete for donors but, this isn’t anything new. We have to remain vigilant in our missions and our ability to “sell our stories” so donors keep us on their radar. It’s no different than the automobile industry or the hospitality industry that want to sell you a new SUV or luxury vacation. The difference is that charitable organizations have a unique product. We help people in need and our success is measured by the extent of how we can improve the quality of life for these people. Long Islanders have always placed a value on our services, and they will continue to do so.
February 14, 2018