Tax Cuts. Again.

By Amy Owen
President, Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties
Member, WRAG Board of Directors

Last week’s Washington Post headline caught my eye, as it must for every other U.S. tax payer: “New estimate: GOP’s second tax cuts would add $3.8 trillion to deficit.”

Like most nonprofit leaders, my head is still spinning from the expedited, and some would say haphazardly, passed, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ratified in December 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated a $1.5 trillion deficit over the next decade as a result. This new legislation seeks to make many of those changes, currently with sunset expirations, both permanent and expanded. It will add to our U.S. deficit. It will also further affect charitable giving.

Serving my community in Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties, we face some of the most lackluster charitable giving rates in the U.S. Blinded by the fresh paint on the homes and businesses in one of the fastest growing and highest-income counties in America, our residents don’t see the need that is, in fact, here.

But, this is larger than what we face in my community. This is an issue that bullies a cornerstone social compact: American philanthropy.

Take, for instance, the estate tax: one of the most pro-social engines to establish legacy gifts in the U.S. And yet, this new plan offers new, even deeper cuts to the estate tax paid by about 5,000 of the wealthiest families in America.

Researchers at Philanthropy Outlook have scoured existing data to anticipate the future of philanthropy under these new policies. In years prior, 30% of U.S. households itemized taxes. With the new standard deduction rules beginning in 2018 tucked into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 5% to 12.5% are expected to itemize. It will be the larger income earners in our nation who itemize. If you’ve studied data offered by the Chronicle on Philanthropy’s How America Gives, you know it’s the low to mid-income earners who donate the highest percentage of their income to charity. Local charity is likely to suffer the most.

Plus, have you heard that IRS guidelines are proposing that, above and beyond the new $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, tax credits issued by your jurisdiction may now be excluded? In other words, in Virginia, tax credits received as you donate through the Neighborhood Assistance Program (benefitting donors to nonprofits serving low-income citizens), Land Conservation Tax Credits, and the Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit Program, and others, will no longer qualify for federal tax deductions—even if you itemize.

While not the first reason all donors give, tax payers are most certainly responsive and incentivized by our tax system’s “nod” to charitable giving. Sixty-seven percent include it on the list of “why I give” in a donor survey by the American Institute of CPAs.

This new legislation breaks a social contract between government and citizen that supports the return of wealth and income to need, education, equity, and innovation through charitable giving.

And with this kind of deficit on the horizon, philanthropy will be more essential than ever. The House is expected to vote later this month.

Why the rising popularity of ugly produce is good news

FOOD WASTE | The consumption of imperfect or flawed fruits and vegetables is on the rise. While the produce has largely gone to food banks or to waste in the past, recently, some for-profit businesses have begun to sell them in an effort to stop food waste and to try to change our society’s views on food. (WCP, 5/17)

According to Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data (ReFED), 63 million tons of food goes to waste every year. Ten million tons, or 16 percent, of that waste happens at the first stage of the supply chain—on the farm. One of the solutions ReFED recommends is accepting and integrating ugly produce into the food system.

That step alone would slow climate change by diverting 266,000 tons of waste away from landfills and on-farm losses, reducing greenhouse gases by 422,000 tons and saving 39 billion gallons of water every year, according to ReFED.

IMMIGRATION | The Montgomery County Council has approved $370,000 in funds to pay for legal representation for certain low-income immigrants who are facing deportation. (Bethesda Beat, 5/22)

TAX REFORM | Foundations and Nonprofits Split Over How to Respond to Tax Changes (Chronicle, 5/22 -Subscription needed)

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS | A Virginia court has ruled that school officials violated the constitutional rights of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia transgender teen who was prohibited from using the boys’ restroom in his high school in 2015. (WaPo, 5/22)

COMMUNITY | What do Prince George’s County residents think about the southern half of the county being labelled ‘ward 9’ of the District? This WAMU article asks community members. (WAMU, 5/22)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE | Column: ‘No relief in sight’: Hundreds of Virginia inmates languish in solitary confinement for years, groups find. (WaPo, 5/22)


Here’s another reason to sleep in on the weekend…

– Kendra

DC’s Black population accounts for most of the city’s opioid epidemic deaths

HEALTH | Fentanyl and carfentanyl are two opioids – and they are responsible for most of the overdose deaths of Blacks in DC. These deaths have increased by 245% from 2014 to 2017 among Black men between the ages of 40 and 69. One doctor is trying to treat this ‘invisible’ population by raising awareness and partnering with local hospitals. (NPR, 3/8)

This epidemic started in white suburban and rural areas where people are overdosing mostly with prescription medicine like Percocet and OxyContin. Dr. Chapman says that African-American patients have historically been less likely to be prescribed pain narcotics.

“The theory is that African-Americans tolerate pain better. That’s a myth,” Dr. Chapman says. But it probably saved blacks from falling victim to the initial opioid crisis, he says.

RACIAL EQUITY
– Yanique Redwood, chair of WRAG’s Board of Directors and president and CEO of Consumer Health Foundation, discusses her organization’s work to operationalize racial equity and the journeys of other grantmakers. (CHF Blog, 3/7)

–  What Funders Are Saying About Racial Equity and Homelessness (Funders Together to End Homelessness, 3/7)

POVERTY | Here’s the case for anti-poverty programs and the destruction of the myth that these programs discourage people from seeking employment. (Atlantic, 3/7)

IMMIGRATION
– The Justice Department will no longer enforce a rule that required asylum seekers get a full hearing before an immigration judge. Advocates say this will endanger asylum seekers who will not have an adequate opportunity to prove they are in danger. (WaPo, 3/7)

– Virginia Senate Passes Bill To Ban Sanctuary Cities, But Northam Promises To Veto It (WAMU, 3/7)

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY | Kelly Lynch, brand & content specialist at Realized Worth, lists the reasons why women are drawn to the corporate social responsibility field in honor of International Women’s Day 2018. (Realized Worth, 3/8)

Related: If you want to hear more from Realized Worth, they’re one of our featured speakers and companies at the Fundamentals of CSR on April 26-27!

WORKFORCE | In June, the District will vote on whether tipped workers should be paid minimum wage. (WaPo, 3/7)

TAX REFORM | Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce is hosting its annual Budget and Tax Briefing: Navigating the Challenges Ahead Together on March 22 and 23. Find more information here.

PUBLIC SAFETY | Maryland Governor Larry Hogan says he opposes the administration’s proposal to arm teachers and offers his own proposals to increase school safety. (WaPo, 2/28)


Check out New York Times’ new Overlooked section, which features obituaries of women who left their mark on our society.

– Kendra

Maryland study estimates Amazon would add $17 billion to the state’s economy

ECONOMY | Maryland’s Department of Commerce has released a study estimating the economic impact on the state if Amazon chose to locate its second headquarters there. The study found it would contribute $17 billion to the economy and add $7.7 billion in wages. (Bethesda Beat, 2/28)

The study determined the ancillary effects of Amazon would result in about 101,000 total jobs and produce about $280 million in additional annual county tax receipts and $483 million in annual state tax receipts.

“Amazon’s HQ2 is the greatest economic development opportunity in a generation, and this study confirms just how transformative this project could be for Maryland,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement about the study. “From the construction phase, to when the headquarters is fully operation, Maryland would reap unprecedented benefits.”

HOUSING
– Local activists and a DC councilmember are concerned the mayor’s proposal that attempts to stop legal challenges to new developments will harm low-income residents and lead to more gentrification. (WaPo, 2/8)

– A local journalist looks into the recent fight about the volume of street performers and others in Chinatown. (Washingtonian, 3/1)

TAX REFORMMost D.C. Residents Will See Lower Taxes Overall From GOP Tax Law (WAMU, 2/27)

VETERANS | Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen has formally requested a review of the Washington DC Veteran Affairs Medical Center. (NBC4, 3/1)

GIVING | A new study found that individual donors giving through donor-advised funds give more to education and less to religion. (Chronicle, 2/28 – Subscription needed)

ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE | The Environmental Protection Agency released a report that found people of color are much more likely to live near polluters and breathe polluted air. (Atlantic, 2/8)

RACISMKKK lawyer warns Loudoun Co. against blocking constitutional rights (WTOP, 3/1)


You can now take a water taxi from the Wharf to National Harbor.

– Kendra