Should tax incentives be changed to benefit donors more equally?

Bruce Barlett, a former Reagan and Bush advisor, wrote a piece for the Times about the charitable deduction. He highlights arguments for and against reducing the deduction and compares giving trends across tiers of wealth. But he also takes on something that doesn’t get usually get much ink: the equity of philanthropic incentives. At the moment, the mechanics of the deduction favor the wealthy. What if policy shifts resulted in benefits to donors of all income levels? (NYT, 8/21)

One obvious compromise would be to convert the charitable deduction to a tax credit: some percentage of contributions could be subtracted directly from one’s tax liability rather than from taxable income. This would equalize the tax reward across incomes and could be done in a way that raised net revenue to pay for rate reductions.

Compromise?! What the heck? How did this guy make a career in politics?

Related: Don’t forget that, as Tamara pointed out, August is the ideal time to get in touch with your representatives about important issues like the charitable deduction. (Daily, 8/6)

EDUCATION
– Perhaps the reason that American public education is mediocre (at best) is because most citizens don’t care enough about it. For example, a new poll finds that the majority of the country doesn’t even know about the Common Core standards. (WaPo, 8/21)

Virginia reading scores drop by double digits on new SOL test (WaPo, 8/21)

YOUTH | Juvenile offenders learn meaning of work through mowing lawns of the elderly (WaPo, 8/21)

LOCAL | Greater Greater Washington’s Bradley Heard wrote a policy paper called Plan Prince George’s 2035: Thinking and Growing Smartly Downtown and Beyond. It’s a response to the county’s own long-term plan. Heard’s chief concern with the county’s plan is that it focuses too narrowly on “‘downtown’-capable Metro station areas, to the exclusion of other station areas.” (GGW, 8/20)

WRAG Members: Next month, we’re co-hosting an event about the state of Prince George’s County. The event will include a discussion with the county executive about the Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative. [More info.]

SEQUESTRATION | Head Start Data Show 57,000 Children Will Lose Access to Pre-K (NAF, 8/20)

PHILANTHROPY | Opinion: It’s Time to Cut Through the Hype of Impact Investing (Chronicle, 8/19) This is a good piece about cutting through the hype of impact investing. WRAG has held a number of programs on the subject in the last few years. A year ago, the Post wrote about impact investing and The Calvert Foundation’s work with the model.

COMMUNITY | The Hitachi Foundation recently published a blog post about how a successful corporate giving strategy shouldn’t just focus on cash gifts, but instead on a holistic mix of factors that includes leveraging employee skills and knowledge. (Hitachi, 8/15)

WORKFORCE | The Center for Regional Analysis just released a paper on the number of households in our region with two or more workers. Over the last decade, the number has barely moved in the region – but it has fluctuated greatly in a number of jurisdictions. (CRA, 8/21)


This should keep you sufficiently distracted for a while! Mashable has curated 13 wicked cool Rube Goldberg machines. Think of the domino effect with much crazier elements.

Rebekah has the Daily tomorrow and Friday, so I’ll see you next week.

– Christian