Jewish Federations Applaud Administration Commitment to Holocaust Survivors and Older Americans, Concern Over Charitable Tax Deduction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 2, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT:
Max Samis, Rabinowitz Communications, max@rabinowitz.com

Jewish Federations Applaud Administration Commitment to Holocaust Survivors and Older Americans, Concern Over Charitable Tax Deduction

Washington, D.C.­ – Jewish nonprofits expressed both appreciation and disappointment as President Obama and his Administration revealed their FY2016 budget. The Jewish Federations of North America voiced concern over the limitation of the charitable tax deduction and funding cuts for important security and emergency programs, while expressing appreciation for the budget treatment of key programs for Holocaust survivors, older Americans and people with disabilities.

“We are pleased to see the Obama Administration’s commitment to supporting programs under the Older Americans Act and to preserving the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund, both of which are key to protecting the most vulnerable among us,” stated Michael Siegal, chair of the Jewish Federations’ Board of Trustees. “Maintaining these important programs is of the utmost importance to Jewish Federations and our beneficiaries, and we commend President Obama for supporting the programs in his FY 2016 budget. Additionally, we are particularly happy to see $2.5 million budgeted for Holocaust Survivor Assistance within the Aging Network Support Activities. We have a responsibility to care for Holocaust survivors who need our assistance, and we look forward to working with the Administration as we continue to serve them.”

The proposed budget adds more than $150 million in new funding for the Older Americans Act, including more than $80 million to home and community-based supportive services, nutrition and family caregiving, all of which are vital to the seniors in our communities. Additionally, the routine reallocation of payroll tax collections between SSDI and the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund will ensure that vulnerable populations maintain full benefits until Congress addresses a longer-term solution to Social Security solvency.

While JFNA expressed its appreciation for the Administration’s commitment toward SSDI and the OAA, the organization was disappointed by some other provisions included in the budget. William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington Office of JFNA, expressed the need for the Administration to protect the value of the charitable tax deduction rather than attempting to limit it. “As many in Congress agree, the deduction is a ‘lifeline and not a loophole,’” stated Daroff. “It provides charities such as Federations with needed funds to care for the most vulnerable among us.”

Daroff went on to note that the Administration did recognize the need to support America’s charities by incentivizing gifts to charity through an exemption from the Buffett Rule tax, requiring those with over $1 million in annual income pay a tax of 30 percent after charitable contributions, as well as providing for the full deduction for the value of charitable gifts from estate and gift taxation. “It is clear that the Administration sees how important these donations are for nonprofits and charitable organizations. We urge the President and his team to join us in recognizing the importance of fully protecting the charitable tax deduction in our nation’s tax code.”

Additionally, JFNA voiced its disappointment that the budget contained funding cuts to a number of important programs. FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program continues to receive no funding in the budget, and the Emergency Food and Shelter Programs saw a $20 million reduction from current funding levels. “The NSGP and EFSP programs help to protect and provide for those who need help the most,” stated Daroff, “and it is disheartening to see the Administration dismiss these important programs in its proposed budget. As the budget process continues, we will work with Congress and the Administration to rectify the funding shortfalls in priority programs.”

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The Jewish Federations, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).

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