On 'Giving Tuesday,' non-profits eye tax reform

Published: Nov. 28, 2017 at 2:48 PM AKST
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There’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday but perhaps the most important is Giving Tuesday-- a global day of giving.

Alaskans give big, and not by just reaching into their pockets. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Alaska ranks fourth in the nation for volunteering. But the tax changes being debated in Congress this 'Giving Tuesday' are concerning non-profits on how deep into their pockets Alaskans will continue to dig.

Alaska has nearly 7,000 non-profit organizations, which rely heavily on volunteers. The non-profit sector is the second-largest industry in the state, behind Oil and Gas. According to the Foraker Group, which works with and supports non-profits across Alaska, the non-profit sector employs about 15 percent of Alaska's workforce in urban communities and more than 50 percent in rural parts of the state.

Catholic Social Services is a non-profit organization that operates one of the busiest food pantries in town. About 100 families are served there every day, distributing about two tons of food daily. Tricia Teasley, director of development and community relations, says food donations are key to its success.

Monetary donations are also crucial for Catholic Social Services' Brother Francis shelter, where about 350 people sleep every night. Teasley said about 85 percent of its funding comes from donors.

But as the season of charitable giving kicks off, experts are advising to give more this year. That’s because if the tax legislation currently being debated in Congress passes, only about five percent of people nationally will be able to itemize their taxes. Which means about 30 million Americans who currently claim their charitable deduction on their taxes will lose it.

The Foraker Group says if Alaskans whose donations no longer qualify for a tax write-of stop giving, that could mean a loss of anywhere between $5.5 million and $15 million a year.