It’s tax time
Maybe you’re one of those early tax return filers, who sent your 1040 to the IRS in January. But, if you’re like millions of Americans (the IRS estimates that one-third wait until the last minute to file), this past weekend may have found you crunching numbers and entering them either online or on a paper form you dutifully mailed to the IRS.
Whether you filed earlier in the year or just today, completing the annual federal tax return may have included a totaling up of the charitable donations you made during the last year, to include in the schedule of itemized deductions. In addition to scrutinizing 1099s and W2s, you may have looked through your records for donations made to churches and synagogues, art museums and food pantries, environmental groups and disaster relief agencies and many other types of charities and causes.
According to the most recent data from the IRS, approximately 1.7 million Ohioans – roughly 30 percent – filed returns with itemized charitable deductions of $4,355,630. Yes, even in 2009, with a recession in full swing, generous Ohioans gave over $4 million to charities to improve the communities in which they live and work, helping neighbors and strangers, children and the elderly, pets, parks and libraries. And, this number doesn’t include the uncountable dollars given by the other 70 percent of tax filers, who don’t report those donations on their returns since they choose not to itemize.
This federal deduction for charitable contributions is a very important incentive for people to give to charities, and that’s why I am so concerned that it’s a target of the current tax reform discussions in Washington. When I was in DC last month with foundation leaders, we talked with many Ohio representatives and both senators about the critical need to maintain all incentives for charitable giving, especially given the state of the economy. I, for one, would hate to see that $4 million shrink away, without the tax advantage that keeps the charitable impulse strong in the Buckeye State and across the country.