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June 23, 2020; The Hill

Using the opening created by a provision of the CARES Act, a bipartisan group of six senators have introduced a bill called the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act to lift the cap for charitable gift deductions from $300 to $4,000 for individuals and to $8,000 for couples—up to one-third of the standard deduction.

This measure has the potential to increase giving among middle- to low-income households who lost any tax incentive to give in the 2017 tax overhaul bill.

The provision would apply starting in tax year 2019. For those who have made use of the tax filing extension, they can include it in their returns, which are due July 15, 2020. Donors who have already filed can amend their returns.

“This proposal incentivizes additional giving during a time of crisis in our nation,” says the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in a press release. “I am proud of the incredible work our bipartisan group of senators has done to help ease the federal tax burden for those who give to charities.”

The other sponsors are Christopher Coons (D-DE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“As we face three national crises—a pandemic, recession, and the wounds of structural racism—Americans have responded with a tremendous spirit of generosity,” Coons said. “People of all means are trying to help by giving what they can to help our nation heal and recover, but there’s a divide among Americans who give.”

To learn more about the research that supports the critical importance of this legislation, you can read the most recent article on the topic by Dr. Patrick Rooney, “Go Big or Go Home: Steps Congress Can Take Now.”—Ruth McCambridge