Forests, rivers and itemizations

Happy Spring Everyone!

I hope that whoever your organization serves or whatever types of issues you help elevate, protect or advance, you take a few moment to thank our colleagues in environmental and natural protection nonprofits that expand and safeguard our beautiful beaches, forests, ocean, parks, public lands, rivers, and trails. Maybe you could volunteer for a river clean-up or trail restoration project. Whatever your interest, be sure to take some time to enjoy the amazing beauty of Oregon this spring!

As you all know, nonprofits are the backbone to a vibrant and productive civil society. The benefit we provide our communities is substantial, measurable and recognized as vital by our residents. Nonprofits have many different business models to meet their missions, and we rely on the generosity of Oregonians for the work that we do every day.

Unfortunately, we have legislative bills like SB214 which would change personal income taxation in Oregon by replacing the allowed itemized deductions with a new Oregon standard deduction equal to only 33% of the federal standard deduction.

The concept of curtailing itemization, which would negatively impact giving to nonprofits, is fundamentally flawed for three reasons: 

  1. It assumes revenue to the government is more important than support to charities, and that curtailing the charitable deductions will have minimum effects. Study after study proves otherwise.
  2. The charitable deduction is an important incentive to our donors. While a cap on itemization may not touch a majority of individual taxpayers, it will have a significant impact on the total amount of charitable giving. Oregonians and all Americans agree that the charitable deduction is important and want to see it expanded, not curtailed. A 2016 polling study conducted by Independent Sector “United for Charity: How Americans trust and value the charitable sector” found that 88 percent of voters believe it should be easier for people to deduct charitable contributions from their taxes.
  3. It makes little sense to negatively impact nonprofit capacity at the very time government relies more and more on the charitable sector to pick up important social services, engage in vital community building, and build human and capital infrastructure.

NAO strongly supports the philosophy that the charitable deduction is a “lifeline, not a loophole” (Senator Ron. Wyden, 2013). The capacity for tax payers to itemize and take a state charitable deduction is proven to have multiplier effects for every dollar given and is the only tax deduction that has that capacity. To limit it in any way causes a reduction in total benefit to Oregon’s communities. Please take action and contact the members of the Senate Committee on Finance and Revenue to lodge your opposition to SB214 and any legislation that would impact charitable giving to our nonprofit sector.



Jim White,
Executive Director, Nonprofit Association of Oregon