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Final Tax Bill Reached-- Congress to Vote Tomorrow!
December 18, 2017 by Americans for the Arts

Tax Bill Completed

Late Friday, December 15, 2017, the congressional tax conference committee completed its work to write a final tax overhaul bill that melds together components of the House and Senate tax bills. Votes are expected on Tuesday, with the President signing the legislation into law soon thereafter.  Will you take two minutes now to tell your member of Congress how this will impact you and the arts?

The vote is so close that Vice President Mike Pence has adjusted his travel schedule to be in Washington, DC, in case his tie-breaking vote is needed to pass the bill since two GOP Senators are currently out on medical leave.

U.S. House and Senate conferees meet to finalize tax bill

Charitable Giving Expected to Take a Hit

As we reported earlier, in a rush to pass far-reaching tax reform before year-end, both the House and Senate advanced tax bills that would have a very negative impact on charitable giving.  Despite some researchers anticipating a loss in charitable giving of almost $20 billion annually as a result of the new tax bill that will significantly reduce the number of taxpayers who can still itemize deductions, top GOP Congressional leaders still believe that a strong economy will make up the difference.  It will be important for the charitable community to document the true impact over the next 18 months.

We will continue to work with Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) to advance a Universal Charitable Deduction in the new year since it was not included in the final conference bill to be voted on this week.  

On a positive note, there were several other menacing provisions in the House and Senate bills that were omitted in the final conference bill that would have caused problems for nonprofit charities, particularly arts-related groups.  The chart below summarizes the outcomes from the three versions of the tax bill that Americans for the Arts and Arts Action Fund has been lobbying.
(Red  = negative result    Yellow = neutral or compromise result    Green= positive result)
U.S. House Proposal U.S. Senate Proposal Final Bill
Universal Charitable Deduction provision not included No such provision No such provision
Eliminates the $250 deduction for teacher supplies and instructional materials Doubles the same provision to $500 No change to current law. The current $250 deduction is maintained.
Reduces estate and gift taxes by doubling the exemption and then ultimately fully repealing the estate tax (historically a generator of major charitable gifts) Reduces estate tax by doubling the exemption Reduces estate tax by doubling the exemption
Repeals the "Johnson Amendment" prohibition on tax-exempt organizations' support for political campaigns, without causing them to lose tax-exempt status No such elimination No such elimination
Eliminates the performing artists' business deduction  No such elimination No such elimination
Repeals lifetime education credits, tax deduction for interest on student loans, and tuition waivers from income for graduate and PhD students No such elimination No such elimination
Repeals income tax exemption for private activity bonds, often used to finance cultural infrastructure projects, like museums No such elimination No such elimination
No such elimination Eliminates artists from the list of qualified groups who can benefit from federally subsidized low-income housing No such elimination

What’s Next:

The House and Senate still need to vote on this final bill. You can still impact your representatives’ voting decisions. Take two minutes now to be sure your member of Congress knows how the bill will impact the arts, and how its various provisions will affect you or your work.

Be assured, should the legislation pass and be signed into law, tax policy will continue to be a live issue into 2018 and beyond, including at Arts Advocacy Day. There will be a number of “technical corrections” that will need to be made, along with further opportunities for tax provisions in other areas of legislative work.

Thank you for standing with us in this fight to #ProtectGiving.  Weigh in now!
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