Research Handbook on Not-For-Profit Law
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Research Handbook on Not-For-Profit Law

Edited by Matthew Harding

This Research Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of scholarship on not-for-profit law. The chapters, written by world leading experts, explore key ideas and debates in relation to: theories of the not-for-profit sector, the composition and scope of that sector, not-for-profit organisations and the constitution, the legal conception of charity, the tax treatment of not-for-profit organisations and the regulation of not-for-profits. The book serves to represent not-for-profit law as a field of academic inquiry, and to point the way to future research in that field.
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Chapter 19: Ways the charitable deduction has shaped the US charitable sector

Roger Colinvaux


This chapter considers the deduction, for purposes of assessing taxable income, that is available in the United States for donors to ‘charitable’ organizations. It argues that the availability of this deduction has influenced the development of the charity sector, and the law and regulatory framework affecting that sector, in profound ways. For example, because ‘charity’ status in the US triggers both income tax exemptions and deductions for donors, that status is restricted in ways that seem puzzling if the justifiability of exemptions taken on their own is under scrutiny. Moreover, the coupling of ‘charity’ status and deductions in US tax law has led to the federal tax authority operating as a de facto regulator of the sector. The chapter argues that deductions distort the distribution of political power and prioritize the interests and preferences of the rich. It concludes that the solution to such inequities may lie in tax credits or targeted deductions.

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