Dollars for Charities, Not More Government

Monday, May 14, 2018

MEDIA ADVISORY: SB 1485 is scheduled to be considered by the Senate Governance & Finance Committee on May 16, 2018.

Polling indicates that 74 percent of voters would prefer to see their money go to charities they trust rather than to government. The same poll found that 88 percent also support making it easier for taxpayers to deduct charitable contributions. Besides, it is our money.

Senate Bill 1485 by Senator Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) would give Californians this greater flexibility by creating the California Universal Charitable Credit (UCC), allowing individual California taxpayers to direct up to $500 of their state income taxes to nonprofits that provide public services. Couples filing jointly would be able to claim donations up to $1,000.

Unlike a deduction, which is often no more than 25 percent of the donation, the credit is dollar-for-dollar. For every dollar that California taxpayers donate to nonprofits, one dollar will be taken off of their state tax bill.

SB 1485 is modeled after an Arizona law which, since 1997, has allowed taxpayers to direct more of their money to programs and charities that they believe do the most effective job of serving vulnerable members of their communities.

The Arizona Charitable Credit has become a major source of funding for qualified nonprofits. Over 20 years, Arizona taxpayers have donated more than $250 million to charities that work to help the poor.

Public services of acceptable quality are often not available to people who need them the most. Yet, there are many nonprofit organizations that already provide excellent services to their communities in California.

“I’ve had the opportunity to support and partner with several nonprofits that provide direct relief to our communities,” said Morrell. “They know best the needs that are on the ground and are often the first that can respond during challenging times. Government can’t do everything. The state should strengthen this network by allowing taxpayers to direct more of their hard-earned dollars to organizations they are confident will deliver results.”

SB 1485 is supported by the organization We Do Better, whose mission is to “promote the freedom and well-being of all Americans by maximizing the quality and accessibility of public services and accountability in their provision.”

Morrell authored similar legislation in 2014 that was blocked by legislative Democrats.