A falloff in charitable contributions?

By Marc Ambinder

The first battle lines of the FY 2010 budget are hereby drawn; figures as diverse as CNBC's Maria Bartimoro and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer say that any limitation on itemized deductions for taxpayers earning over $200,000 individually will severely limit charitable giving. Hoyer calls it "clearly one of the greatest concerns."  Bartiromo worries about the "unintended consequences."  But this sounds like a talking point. If wealthy people want to give money, then they should give, regardless of tax benefits. Also: if you're inclined to oppose higher taxes on rich people, wouldn't this be the first way you'd try to sell your opposition to the American people -- by essentially fretting about the huge drop in charitable contributions? My thought experiment is: if tax reform down the line were to  gut all deductions, would charitable contributions totally dry up?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/02/a-falloff-in-charitable-contributions/1021/