Lankford: Senate bill works to create incentive for charitable giving

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A United States senator from Oklahoma says he is focused on helping non-profit organizations survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. James Lankford announced that a bill the provides targeted funding for coronavirus relief will now include an incentive for charitable giving.

“It’s called a skinny bill because the House put out a $3.5 trillion bill as their goal. We were trying to look at what are the prime needs? Schools, vaccines, small businesses that have been hardest hit, but also not-for-profits. The safety net in America is really made up of three groups; families are the first safety net. Second safety net are churches and non-profits. The third safety net is government. I know a lot of people look at it and say the safety net is government, but by the time that folks get to government, they should have already gone through the other two. We need families that are strong. We need not-for-profits that are strong. So in the previous bill, in the CARES Act that we did in March, we gave everyone a $300 tax deduction if they donated to a non-profit of their choice. Any non-profit, any church, any house of worship they could donate to because those folks are all helping people. We increased that in this proposal, so it’s $600 per person or $1,200 for a family that you can deduct straight from your taxes. The goal is, we’ve gotta get help out there to as many people as possible. So we want to incentivize folks giving to not-for-profits because those are the folks that are holding up a lot of families that are in need right now with clothes, with food, with basic help, trying to be able to get that too. So any non-profit, people can donate to, write that off on their taxes this year, even if you don’t itemize,” Lankford told KFOR.

Thousands of non-profits have expressed support for the bill. Lankford says the bill also provides support for schools across the country.

“There were billions of dollars that were given to schools in the March CARES package. This does another over $100 billion toward schools as well. That is for exactly what you’re describing there. It’s for technology, it is to help with PPE, it’s to help them with transportation, many of them are running two routes for their buses, so they’ve had to change that to allow for more social distancing. So this allows greater help. It’s also not discriminatory. It’s a private school, public school, charter school, doesn’t matter because what we did in CARES Act and what’s happening now is we’re focused on every single American. So every American is affected by this in some spots, so we should also make sure that we’re taking care of all types of schools as well because that affects every single American. So there’s targeted aid toward each of those.”

“We gave $150 billion to the states and local municipalities in the CARES Act. A lot of the states have come back and said, ‘We need more flexibility and more time.’ What we’ve done is we’ve taken $150 billion that we did in March and we’ve extended out the time period for them to use it. Right now, it’s already the end of December is when they have to have all those funds used by. We’re extending that out until September so that no one has to be in a hurry. Most of the states around the country still have half or more of that $150 billion that was given to them. They just haven’t had the ability to be able to spend it and have the target to be able to do it. We gave them more time so they’re not in a hurry just to throw money out the door, but to be able to make sure that they’re using it more efficiently. That’s one of the prime issues. For Oklahoma, that means $77 per person that has been put around the state, both in state aid, city and county aid as well. It’s a significant amount of money that’s been put out there all across the state to be able to help those local municipalities. Even in Oklahoma, where most of our municipalities, their sales tax revenue they thought would go down significantly, but people actually stayed home and shopped online, those tax revenues came back home. So for most of those municipalities around the state, they’re actually doing very well in tax revenue,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he hopes to schedule a floor vote this week on the bill.

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