Rep. Becerra seeks to undermine Private Giving

January 4th, 2009 · 11 Comments

The same congress that rewarded the mismanagement of the banks and the automotive industry is now targeting private philanthropy thanks to the efforts of Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-CA). Specifically, Rep. Becerra is threatening private foundations’ tax exempt status, which he calls a $32 billion earmark, in the name of providing more diversity in grant making.

I believe that Becerra’s proposal will never become a reality because people are motivated to give to avoid dealing with the government and to provide relief and assistance to the charities of their choice. If Becerra wants to increase diversity in grant making, he can start by leading the charge for more people of color to become involved in charitable giving. There are ways for everyone at all income levels to give back, whether it entails writing checks, donating in-kind gifts, or volunteering time. Sadly, the Latino community does not take advantage of the formal channels set up to give, instead we contribute directly to friends and family in need. In 1999, a report was published showing the underrepresentation of Latino non-profits and foundation board members. Additionally, in Latin America, formal charities, as known here in the US with tax incentives, do not exist.

Last month the Philanthropic Collaborative released a national analysis on foundation giving. It’s findings revealed that:

“Annual national grant-making focused heavily on health (23 percent), education (23 percent), human services (14 percent) and arts and culture (12 percent). But even more startling are the aggregate numbers: Foundation giving increased from $16 billion to $42.9 billion from 1997 through 2007, and last year’s $42.9 billion generated $367.9 billion in direct economic benefits, $512 billion in increased household incomes (with 9.2 million jobs in not-for-profit organizations) and $145 billion in government tax revenues.”

Becerra is arguing that “donor intent” is an excuse for the lack of grants to racial minorities, but having worked in philanthropy, I have found that most donors want to give to where the need is greatest, not factoring in the race or ethnicities of the charity’s beneficiaries. If more Latinos became actively involved in philanthropy, we would be better represented in the distribution of funds, especially if people learned how to contribute restricted gifts and remained engaged with the non-profits beyond opening the checkbook.

Finally, there are multiple giving options that can supplement income and protect assets for heirs, while saving capital gains, estate, and income taxes. The people who are more sophisticated in managing their money will not want to go along with Congressman Becerra’s proposal. They are largely motivated by tax incentives and the ability to decide for themselves where they want their money to go. By redistributing some of this money with taxes, Becerra will take away one of the biggest reasons people open their wallets in the first place. Why further politicize someone’s gift?

Tags: diversity · Economics · Rep. Xavier Becerra

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 DfD // Jan 4, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Becerra just wants to steal taxpayers dollars for HIS SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. Change we can believe in?

  • 2 Anna // Jan 4, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    He never says “in the name of providing more diversity in grant making.” You’re attributing that to him. His point is that the taxes on 32 billion a year could be used for the greater good. I’m not saying that I agree with Becerra because as the article states, those donations have a ripple effect that help even those for whom the money was not intended. But I can see his point. When the rich have received so many “bailouts” why should they not have to pay their fair share of taxes?

    DfD: You do nothing but lower the discourse. I really wish the webmaster would ban you. You don’t contribute anything, and you wreck every thread.

  • 3 DfD // Jan 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm


    Your comments are divisive and inflammatory. I really wish the webmaster would ban you. You never bring anything reasonable to the table…

  • 4 Michaelr // Jan 4, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    More proof that going to the best schools doesn’t increase your intelligence quota. Over the last twenty-eight years Congressional culture has not practiced any methodologies that reflect the greater good. Instead they have acted in unison to ignore the needs of those seeking the pursuit of the American dream, while giving tax breaks to Corporate American manufacturing to move their plants to other countries, and spending close to a trillion dollars to protect the interests of the oil industry in Iraq. Congress has increased their salaries four times during that time and have done nothing to punish the lawlessness that has run throughout the Reagan, Bush, and Bush 2 administrations. And just last month they gave billions of your tax dollars to Wall Street firms, who used 1.9 billion of those tax dollars to give bonuses to their CEOs, and now the taxpayer is being forced to fiscally support GMC, Ford, and Chrysler? If you think this projected 32 billion dollars will be used for the greater good, then that’s another Santa Claus story that will have another ugly ending. Congress has engaged in so much public theft over the last twenty-eight years politicians believe they can propose ideas like this and not get any push-back. Why not tax all those enterprises masquerading as religions? The Mormons use tithing to finance right wing political propositions. Do you actually think Congress will fill the void now financed by foundations and charities? Looks like another bonehead idea from Becerra, the bagman. What’s next…tax me on items I’ve already paid taxes on?

  • 5 webmaster // Jan 4, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Attn: Everyone!

    Let’s resolve to debate the issues without resorting to name calling. Can’t we be civil? I have resisted banning anyone, but I will delete comments that are blatantly off topic, racist, threatening, and obviously copied without a source.

    We may come to these posts from opposite ends of the political spectrum, and that’s ok. But I don’t think that we need to use derogatory names or hurl crude insults. As participants in this blog, I am confident that you can elevate the discussion.

  • 6 Jesus (Hay-soos) // Jan 4, 2009 at 2:37 pm


    I am glad you are taking a sensible approach to the problem of “trolls” on your blog. I can usually ignore most of the trash they post by skimming over their rants, but then it takes away from the focus of the article and then it becomes very annoying.

    I thank you for that and am glad to see that it is working in your latest post of Bill Richardson.

  • 7 DfD // Jan 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Tax exempt status should be removed fom LULAC, MALDEF, NCLR, and the Roman Catholic Church as well. I wouldn’t be against that at all…

  • 8 Reyfeo // Jan 4, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Im with DFD on this…how many “taxes” will we impose because of “the rich get tax breaks…” logic we hear from liberals.

    Also, he’s being funny (DFD that is), but it is a legit question, will Congressman Becerra start with LULAC, MALDEF and the NCLR etc, probably not.

    Also, I too am frustated with the bail out money fiasco, but to lay blame on Reagan, Bush and Bush 2 is upsurd… it was a democratic congress that approved the money to begin with…probably becuase they liked the sociallistic 180 Bush did. So lets lay that mantra across on all politicians: Rep and Dems alike.

  • 9 Anna // Jan 4, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    The bailout was a stickup and the Dems were told what would happen if they didn’t pass it:

  • 10 Michaelr // Jan 6, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    It was more than a stickup. It was rape and pillage. Think about that when you get your paycheck next week and see how much withholding was taken out of your check. Have you received your thank you letter from the CEO of Bank of America?

  • 11 theKaiser // Jan 10, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    This is the reason Xavier Becerra ran for office. He just can’t get enough of filling his pockets. This surely is not new political behavior for him.

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