The July 16 article on a recent rebound in some kinds of charitable giving (“Arts, culture groups win back donors”) no doubt reinforces some readers’ opinions that 1) Americans are exceedingly generous when they can afford to be and 2) they respond well to incentives such as tax deductions and perks such as having their names published in programs, embossed on plaques and engraved on entire buildings.
Strangely, then, we hear calls for limits on the deductibility of contributions. But in times of tight public budgets, why not learn a lesson from the private sector? Why not expand allowable deductions if taxpayers contribute to targeted government programs or agencies — perhaps those that address our most pressing problems across the spectrum of public services? Such generosity would be (unlike taxes) entirely voluntary and deductions would be allowed up to designated limits. Donors also would receive public recognition (if desired) in the form of certificates, plaques, medals, appreciation dinners and the like.
Appropriate incentives could open the pocketbooks of people and corporations who otherwise would complain bitterly about government spending.
DAN WASCOE, Golden Valley
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.