Emmett D. Carson is the chief executive officer of Silicon Valley Community Foundation (www.siliconvalleycf.org). He wrote this editorial for the San Jose Mercury News.
As the president and Congress face a critical deadline to strike a budget deal to reduce the federal deficit, the charitable deduction should be viewed as a source of innovation for social benefit — not as an expense to be cut.
The nation’s future social and economic health will demand a balanced fiscal approach. We must raise new revenue, including increasing some tax rates, and cutting expenses, including some entitlements. To suggest anything else is not realistic or responsible. However, the cuts we choose are important because they speak to our country’s values and priorities.
For nearly 100 years, our tax system has encouraged Americans to give back to their communities to help the most vulnerable of our residents by making charitable donations. With a weak economic recovery and unemployment hovering near 8 percent, this is not the time to cap charitable deductibility.
Today, Americans contribute nearly $300 billion to support social service needs that government no longer funds, to restore our battered education system and to address the multifaceted causes of poverty. With the magnitude of the challenges we face, we need more people to give — not fewer.
Just four years after passage of the nation’s first permanent income tax, Congress enacted the charitable deduction in 1917, saying it wanted to ensure that the new income tax would not discourage private giving. Yes, today’s charitable deduction has a cost, estimated at about $40 billion a year. But limiting the value of the deduction, capping the deduction or eliminating it entirely carries an even greater cost.
Capping the value of the deduction would reduce giving, perhaps by as much as $7 billion, according to some estimates. That’s charitable capital that has sparked new ways of delivering desperately needed services. It has sparked new life in struggling communities. And it is sparking precisely the kind of social innovation that we need to reinvigorate America.
The charitable deduction’s role in fostering innovation and solving problems is too important to put at risk. Throughout our nation, there are too many communities that must be rebuilt, too many people who have lost hope. The nonprofit sector, which now employs 10 percent of Americans, serves those communities and people. And it relies on those who give to provide the charitable capital needed to create jobs, provide a wide array of social services, promote arts and culture and try new things.
As CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, every day I have the privilege of seeing the tremendous impact that individual and corporate giving has in making our communities better, stronger and more vibrant. Don’t cap hope. Don’t cap new ideas. Don’t cap the drive and passion of Americans who want to give back and help make their neighborhoods, their cities, their regions or their country better today and tomorrow.
The charitable deduction is the last thing that either the president or Congress should target, not one of the first.
Kasandra’s Murder Highlights Popular Misconception:
Traumatic Brain Injury Does Not Cause Domestic Violence
Earlier this week, Kasandra Perkins was murdered by her partner, Jovan Belcher. Among many biographical facts about Jovan is that he was a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs. Indeed, thousands of women are murdered annually in the United States by their intimate partners, implicating all ethnicities, vocations, and socioeconomic levels. We don’t know why Jovan Belcher murdered Kasandra Perkins, but many people in the media have speculated as to whether or not a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from successive football-related concussions caused Jovan to murder Kasandra.
A TBI is a traumatically-induced disruption of brain function or disturbance of consciousness, resulting in impairment of cognitive, emotional, and physical functioning. Millions of people in the United States have sustained TBIs, ranging from combat veterans to victims of motor vehicle accidents to football players. TBI symptoms may include problems with impulse control as well as aggressive, and sometimes violent, behavior. TBI-related aggressive behavior can occur anytime and be directed toward anyone. Notably, TBI-related aggression is not confined to intimate partners.
We do not know the details of Kasandra and Jovan’s relationship, but we know enough about Jovan to suspect that he might have been emotionally abusive and controlling in his relationships with women, including Kasandra. During college, he punched through a dorm window, nearly severing his thumb and sustaining wrist lacerations, because a woman with whom he was romantically involved, had upset him, according to a University of Maine Police Department incident report. In a separate incident, University Police were contacted by a third party concerned about “raised voices.” In that incident, Belcher was upset because a girlfriend had not called him at a designated time. It is rumored that Belcher’s fight with Kasandra began when she returned home late from a concert where he suspected she was with other men. Jovan and Kasandra had separated earlier this year and had just gotten back together. The police had been to their residence previously. Kansas City Chiefs’ officials knew about the problems in Jovan and Kasandra’s relationship, and the two had been in counseling.
A significant point overlooked in the mainstream media discussion regarding Jovan’s murder of Kasandra is that while Belcher may have had a TBI, TBIs do not cause coercive controlling behavior in intimate relationships. It is true that the presence of co-occurring conditions such as TBI, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and substance abuse increases the likelihood of lethality in violent and controlling relationships; however, this is vastly different from drawing a direct causal relationship between TBI and violent controlling behavior in a relationship. Few will disagree that the facts to date detailing the nature of Jovan’s murder of Kasandra – shooting her nine times in a fit of violent rage, kissing her corpse, and then committing suicide – is much more strongly associated with battering-related homicides and not TBI.
Military Advocacy Program Coordinator
Battered Women’s Justice Project
Focusing on enriching the quality of life for Santa Clara residents, Mission City Community Fund has generously donated $5,000 to help fund Case Managers at Next Door’s Emergency Shelter. Case Managers ensure that domestic violence survivors progress from their arrival at the Shelter, most often in crisis, to the creation of Action Plans, which set short-term and long-term emotional, behavioral, financial, and educational goals. This contribution from Mission City Community Fund will help Next Door accommodate at least 10 women from Santa Clara in the Shelter and support 200 hotline calls from Santa Clara residents.