Charities fear new tax law's impact on donations

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The new tax law has some non-profits worried they will lose donors.

That is because it is changing the way people write off charitable contributions.

At Faith Mission in Wichita Falls Tuesday, two men experienced a life-changing moment. One that was made possible thanks to Faith Mission's donors.

"It's been an absolute testimony of the generosity and the humanity of this community the way they support Wichita Falls Faith Mission," said Steve Sparks, the nonprofit's CEO.

As two men graduated from the mission's New Beginnings program, others looked on in hopes of being in their shoes soon. Something that can only happen with donor dollars.

But the new tax law lowers incentives for people to donate.

Before, they could reduce their tax burden by writing off charitable donations and itemizing them on their tax returns.

Under the new law, many middle-class taxpayers no longer will need to itemize. It instead offers a bigger standard deduction, doubled to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples.

If you do not itemize, you can not deduct your charitable donations.

"There's no sense in denying the fact that there are some tax benefits to charitable giving," said Sparks.

But he said it all comes down to is a person's motive for giving.

"And we feel like that a lot of the people who give to Wichita Falls Faith Mission give because they believe in what we do here," said Sparks.

He is trusting that no tax law is going to change that, and people are going to want to give no matter what.

Michelle Kuehner, an investment adviser with Personal Money Planning, believes a small percentage of people donate just for tax reasons. She said most do it because it means something to them.

"Take for instance hospice. If you've had a family member or a loved on that has been shown the compassion that they offer, you're going to be more opt to donate to some place like that that you have a connection with," said Kuehner.

But still, some of her clients are looking at other, options like "accelerated charitable giving."

"It's a strategy called bunching," said Kuehner.

She said it is where instead of donating a certain dollar amount like $5,000 a year, people donate $10,000 in one year and take the itemized deduction.

"Then the second year you take the standard deduction," said Kuehner.

Sparks said no matter how people choose to donate, he hopes that no tax law will change people's desire to want to give.

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