Tax Rules Unfair on Charities

Westbrook Pegler

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)

April 20, 1957


 Our congressmen and senators have had the indecent gall to pass a law and pass it over and over for years, which compels us to pay income tax on $25 given to a destitute friend but allows us to deduct from taxable income money given to any one of a thousand “organized charities,” many of which are rackets.

If the needy friend dies without repaying the $25, we may write a formal letter to his “estate” demanding payment, with interest, and representing the gift as a loan retaining a carbon copy to be shown to the internal revenue


In order to prove that we have made a serious effort to collect, we must dun the estate at least once more. at least a year and more likely two years must elapse before we are allowed to sully the late friend’s name by listing this gift of charity with interest as a bad debt. We must post the friend as a deadbeat, which means a cheat.

The letters demanding payment should be sent by registered mail. It might be difficult to comply with this peculiarity because such a friend might not have an actual estate. Who is going to take the trouble to read and answer letters for a poor dead busted guy whose friends had to pass the hat to bury him?

If the friends does not die but nevertheless does not pay simply because he is finding it tough enough to come up with his room rent from week to week over the years, we are allowed to deduct the loan as a business loss but listing it as a bad debt—provided we take the pains to write him several cold-blooded letters demanding our money.

This will stab him to the heart, but, after all, congress wrote the law, so we have to put aside true charity and decency and demand our $25, knowing that the guy hasn’t got a dime.

If we don’t do this, the charity to this friend costs us a tax of from 20 per cent to almost 100 percent. The $25, plus income tax, will come to $30 or $48.80, according to circumstances.


In other words, congress has decreed by its internal revenue acts that a charitable gift of $25 to the Fund for the Abatement of Chilblains may be reduced by means of “deduction.”

The amount of saving through this deduction varies according to the ‘brackets’ in which our taxes are computed. The more we give to “organized charity” and “deduct” from our taxable income, the less we have to pay the government.

So, actually, a fellow with a roomy income may set up an impressive reputation for generosity largely at the expense of fellow citizens who must pay higher taxes than otherwise they would, to make up the shortage caused by these “deductions.”

It may be a fact that this fund for the abatement of chilblains has never abated on single chilblain, although millions of dollars have been donated for “research” in the guise of charity.

All “organized charity” is cold-blooded and most of it is a racket.

It is heartless because the donor makes his gift with a mercenary eye to his own financial advantage via “deductibility.” That is why “organized charities” flaunt the sordid reminder in their “literature” that gifts to their treasuries are “deductible.”

Many of them hire professional fund-raisers who clip the gross by as much as 30 per cent for their services in whooping up the pitiful condition of their beneficiaries, and stimulating collections.

The spirit of Red Cross charity is collective and corporate by contrast with the personal compassion of an individual who gives $100 to a sick friend without hope or even a desire of repayment and willingly assumes an additional burden of income tax.

Congress planned all this that way. These details and many ore were thoroughly threshed out in committee and on the floor. The result discredits the sordid vaunting of a nation which is forever boasting of its great humane spirit

We give countless millions in “organized” charity every year with the result that such cold-blooded organizations, to a large extent subsidized by the government, suffocate true personal charity.

Actual charity, the pure generosity of the decent heart, is cramped, penalized and discouraged, yet, somehow, lives on in millions of private, secret acts between human beings above and beyond the comprehension of the dirty souls in congress who maintain this evil.

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