Earlier this week I was reading AB 347, a bill that is currently circulating in Washington DC. The summary reads as follows: "Allows an individual or a corporate taxpayer to deduct a charitable contribution made for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti on the taxpayer's 2009 tax return, instead of the 2010 tax return."
I am a supporter of charitable giving. As a matter of fact I am the president of a non-profit corporation. However, playing with taxes in this manner is, in my opinion, playing with fire. Our nation already operates under a budget that is out of step with reality. We have existing tax laws for charitable donations. Does this bill serve any purpose other than to make the person(s) sponsoring it "look good" in an election year? I don’t think so.
The current tax code is hundreds of pages long and wastes $200 billion a year on tax code compliance. Now we're going to spend additional tax dollars on getting a jump-start on 2010 donations?
Where in the Constitution is the authority to offer aid to foreign nations though manipulations of US tax code derived? Is it altruism if your motivation is the manipulation of a tax return? How does it benefit all citizens as "fair and honest taxation"? How would this bill improve the "general welfare" of the United States? How does this bill address the already out-of-control deficit?
How about we set up a tax bill that will offer deductions to people who donate to "reduce the deficit" this year?
Does Haiti need our help? Yes. That fact is unquestionable. However, we should not be manipulating our tax code to provide that aid. Millions of dollars are flowing into Haiti regardless of this bill. It boils down to more pointless legislation.
When Congress uses its power to change existing tax codes in order to boost re-election campaigns and popularity (in the name of altruism), suddenly changes to the financial structure of our nation are based on whim - not law. With precedents such as this, what is to stop Congress from passing a change to the tax code, which will exempt them from paying taxes altogether?
I urge you to contact your Congressional representatives and suggest they spend their time and energy fixing what we have first.