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11/14/2012 04:25 pm ET

Charitable Tax Breaks Could Take Hit During Lame-Duck Session Of Congress

Congress could choose to change the limitations on charitable tax deductions during its lame-duck session aimed at tackling expiring tax laws and automatic budget cuts, according to the Independent Sector.

President Obama has long proposed changes to charitable-giving tax breaks that would limit deductions to 28 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples earning more than $250,000, according to Bloomberg. The current deduction limit is 35 percent.

Many charity sector leaders have spoken out against this potential fiscal cliff fix. Some say they're concerned that capping the value of deductions would deter donors at a time when nonprofits are increasingly asked to fill the gaps due to local austerity measures, high unemployment rates and humanitarian crises.

United Way CEO and HuffPost blogger Brian Gallagher has written that the charitable tax break caps are "ill-advised."

"At a time when unemployment remains high, our nation's most vulnerable families need more help, not less," Gallagher wrote for HuffPost. "States can't fill the gap and most are cutting their human services budgets. As a result, more and more people are turning to charities for assistance. Thus, any change to the federal tax code that undermines charitable giving is a bad idea."

The White House sought to quell charities' fears earlier this year, claiming that "80 percent of overall contributions wouldn't be affected at all" because they're donated by people who aren't in the top two tax brackets or come from organizations that are exempt from the cap.

Others in the nonprofit sector say they see the tax deduction caps as simply confusing.

"The President is sending mixed messages to the charitable community," Sue Santa, senior vice president of the Philanthropy Roundtable, said in a release. "On one hand, he wants to limit the charitable deduction. On the other, he wants millionaires to continue to give to charity while also paying higher taxes."

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