Republicans successfully sent their tax bill to the Senate floor on Tuesday after it won support from all 12 GOP members of the budget panel. If it continues on to become law, many charities fear, non-profit organizations could be paying for it.
The bill, officially named the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by President Trump, would nearly double the standard deduction to $12,200 for an individual and $24,400 for a married couple.
Experts say doubling the standard deduction would lower the number of taxpayers who itemize their deductions. That, in turn, could cause non-profits to suffer because fewer taxpayers would be claiming the deduction for charitable gifts and they would have less incentive to donate. Taxpayers who itemize would drop from the current 30 percent to 5 percent, according to some analyses.
According to a study in May by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, charitable donations are bound to drop in great numbers if the tax legislation becomes law. Charitable giving will most likely fall by $4.9 billion to $13.1 billion annually, the study found.
Non-profit groups in Los Angeles, like those around the country, are assessing the possible effects on their operations.
"Charities are the backbone of our country," said Jill Gurr, president of Create Now, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization that provides arts education.
Create Now says it focuses its efforts on "kids who have been abused, neglected, orphaned, made homeless, victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking, on probation, incarcerated or experiencing other severe challenges."
Gurr believes that the tax plan would not force people to stop giving but allow them to choose more compellingly to support the things that they believe in most.
Many non-profits serve to satisfy the basic needs of people in their community. World Harvest Food Bank, for example, provides food and clothes to hundreds of families daily.
Glen Curado, founder and CEO of World Harvest Charities and Food Services, says many of the donations that the food bank receives are items that were going to go to waste anyway.
"A lot of our donations come from corporations that are rebranding, companies that have overproduced and simple things such as bread being underweight. There are people who need those things," he said.
Any decrease in donations, Curado said, would mean that the food bank would be unable to provide as much for the 100 to 200 families who come in on weekdays and the 200 to 300 per day on the weekends.
He said his organization has joined many others in making calls to their biggest donors to try to stay ahead of the implications of the GOP tax plan.
If the bill becomes law, passing in the full Senate and then the House of Representatives before heading to President Trump, it would roll out in 2018.