Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of the Washington Post, goes on a bit of a rant
…At first blush, it seems to make policy sense, too. The rich fabric of America’s civic life, from Boy Scouts to community orchestras to soup kitchens, is the envy of the world. Its diversity reflects in part how much it depends on private givers with diverse interests and motives, and not just on the government. Their giving is encouraged by the charitable deduction, enacted in 1917, just four years after the income tax itself. The deduction lets people feel they are beating the system even as they practice virtue.
But there’s a question of fairness that complicates the issue. Overwhelmingly, the deduction benefits the wealthy — and the rest of the country has to make up the gap.
In other words, private citizens and entities are “giving back” instead of giving the money to the Central Government and allowing the Central Planning Office distribute the money as it sees fit.
Say a grateful California billionaire gives $10 million to a Los Angeles hospital where his wife received good care. If he is paying income tax at the highest rate (not a sure thing, as we know from the presidential campaign), he can reduce his income tax bill by 35 percent of the worth of the donation. He pays $3.5 million less in federal taxes than he otherwise would have had to pay.
Um, let me get this straight: the billionaire just gave $10 million to charity, and paid $3.5 million less in tax, meaning said billionaire actually gave up $6.5 million more than he could have, and now the hospital’s balance sheet is looking pretty good, and the hospital can now help quite a few more people, can make renovations, purchase needed supplies, etc, and this is somehow a bad thing? Only in Liberal World.