It’s about to get tougher for American charities and the poor

If you’re poor, it’s probably not very reassuring when Speaker Paul Ryan touts the extra $1.50 you’re getting in your paycheck. America is turning on you — demonizing the poor, slashing taxes for the rich and reducing incentives to give to charity. Poverty is about to grow, along with financial inequality.

Nonprofits like the United Way are expecting big declines in their revenue this year, largely due to the tax reform that disincentivizes donations to charity because standard deductions are increased for so many in the bottom 80 percent. Meanwhile, programs for the poor are being slashed, leaving a bigger need for the work of nonprofits, who will have less money to do the work.

Tax reform is not doing much to help the poor, the bottom 20 percent. And that’s a huge problem because the poorest 20 percent of Americans are far more generous than the top 20 percent — and that counts those giant gifts from folks like Bill Gates. The top 20 percent gives only 1.3 percent of its income to charity, while the bottom 20 percent gives at more than double that rate. They don’t have much, and they can’t give much, but they give what they can. They see the problems around them. If they could give more, they would. History shows that if the rich, as a whole, can give less, they will.

There also is less incentive now for corporations to give to charity. And they are already less likely to give to grass-roots organizations that make real impact in favor of familiar corporate behemoth nonprofits that can get them the publicity — not results — they are seeking.

Now may be the time for churches to step up. You know which your church is more concerned with — that fancy new fountain or the troubled in your community. If your church does not choose its path wisely, choose your next church wisely.

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