Some local nonprofits worried about U.S. tightening rules on donations

  • on Friday, 12 28, 2012. At the Vista Family Health Center in Santa Rosa, Friday Dec. 28, 2012, Dr. Parker Duncan greet greets Yolanda Alcazar during a visit to the clinic on Round Barn Blvd. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

With only two days left for end-of-year charitable giving, some managers of local nonprofit groups are quietly wondering whether this will be the last year their donors will get a full tax break from Uncle Sam for their generosity.

Americans donate about $300 billion to qualifying charities every year, a sum that costs the federal government about $50 billion in tax revenue, according to the New York Times. Now, the pressure is building in Washington to scale back deductions to help raise federal revenue.

That has local charities worried.

Mike Kallhoff, president and CEO of The United Way of Wine Country, said that even if such deductions are eliminated, many will continue to give, although others may not.

"Some people start off the conversation with, &‘It's the end of the year and I know exactly how much I have to give to get my tax break,'" Kallhoff said.

He said it's unclear at this point what action Congress will take.

"Right now I have not heard anything other than everything is up in the air," he said. "My gut feeling is no, it won't happen. But it can happen, don't get me wrong."

At Vista Family Health Center in Santa Rosa, the fruits of donor gifts are visible everywhere, from the costly remodeling of the building to the daily services provided.

Donations have helped Vista's parent organization, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers, become a health-care powerhouse that will play a key role in serving many of the city's newly insured under President Barack Obama's health care law.

"We rely on donations for our operations and even more significantly for capital campaign contributions when we need to expand our operations and develop new programs," said Naomi Fuchs, CEO of the health centers.

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