Do you find it astounding that charities remained silent when Congress added $70 billion to the deficit last week by extending tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, further starving government programs? Even if that doesn’t get to you, you’ve still got to wonder why all but a few nonprofit organizations and foundations (in spite of the activism of groups such as OMB Watch and United for a Fair Economy) say nothing as the Senate approaches a vote that will decrease charitable donations by up to $25 billion a year. That’s equivalent to stopping all annual grantmaking by the 110 largest US foundations.
I am, of course, talking about repeal of the Estate Tax. Although rightwing propagandists have popularized the notion that Americans pay a “death tax,” the reality is that only about the very wealthiest 1% of estates are affected. Furthermore, most of the tax generated comes from the top one-quarter of one-percent (00.25%) of the super rich; repeal will cost the Treasury about $1 trillion over the ten years covered by the upcoming Senate vote. And Senator Kyl’s proposal, although disguised as reform, is just about repeal.
If you care about social issues, if you care about the environment, if you care about arts and culture, if your care about animal welfare, if you care about anything except greed, you need to be concerned about this. No matter whether you believe in private altruism or government responsibility in meeting needs and addressing issues that move you, repeal of the Estate Tax profoundly and severely limits our capacity for action. Nonprofit organizations and foundations need to be heard on the issue, and heard now! You can act!