For charities the late rush in 2017 comes before the great unknown of 2018

Year end and charity giving

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH - It's the season for giving to charities.  The last couple days of the year are typically huge for local non-profits getting last minute donations from people wishing to write off the money on their taxes. 

This year it could be even bigger because the new tax law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump is changing everything.

The new tax rules will allow taxpayers to double the standard deduction the majority of Americans use on their taxes.  For example, the standard deduction will go from $12,000 to $24,000 for a married couple.  That means taxpayers who previously decided to itemize deductions may opt to use the standard deduction instead of deducting money they would ordinarily give to charities and write off.

That's a big concern for social services type of charities like Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids.

"The pushback from some of our representatives has been that people don't give to charity because of tax deductions," Mel Trotter's CEO Dennis Van Kampen said.  "But they actually do. Those of us who have been working in this field all our lives know people do it out of the goodness of their heart, they do it because of their faith, but they equally do it because of that tax deduction."

Van Kampen says his organization hasn't done any official projections on how much less Mel Trotter will receive.  But he says it's largely expected charities around the country will see $13 billion less.

"Now, if they don't have the incentive of itemizing, we could see a significant impact on our donations," Van Kampen said.  "It's not like you can tighten your belt. We're not operating on a profit margin. You have to cut services.  So if you have an increase in homelessness and a decrease in services, our whole community suffers."

With the new law kicking in on January 1, there's an expectation people could give their 2018 portion in the final days of calendar year 2017 if they want to itemize in 2017 but, perhaps, take the standard deduction in 2018.

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