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Reason Foundation

Not exactly the Christmas spirit

Ted Balaker
December 22, 2004, 12:06pm

Related to my earlier post is this question: Why would the government change the tax code to give Americans less incentive to be charitable? Today, I have a reasononline article that explores that question: New laws that take effect just after the holiday season allow Uncle Sam to take more money come tax time. The extra money comes from those who donate their cars to charity, but discover that the amount they can deduct has shrunk dramatically. The truly humbug twist is who will get hurt by the grab–charities that generate income from donated cars and the needy people they help. More than 4,000 organizations help everyone from battered women to single moms to disabled veterans, but Americans will soon have less incentive to support such efforts. Could this be another instance in which government action steps on private action, and civil society shrinks a bit more? One thing that has marveled observers for centuries is America's vibrant culture of voluntary organizations, from charities to churches to groups of skateboarding moms to fraternal organizations and mutual aid societies. It's aways a shame when government makes it tougher for these groups to flourish. David Beito is the guru on a lot of this, and I heartily recommend his book, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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