A national official from the Jewish Federations of North America testified Feb. 14 before the House Ways and Means Committee — thanks in part to U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.
William Daroff, vice president of public policy and director of Washington, D.C., operations, testified at a hearing about proposals to amend or limit charitable tax deductions.
Federations and other nonprofits have argued that such a change could hamper their ability to raise funds and serve underprivileged clients. Originally, a change in the charitable deduction had been on the table as part of the so-called fiscal cliff talks. While it was left out of the deal reached between the administration and Congress at the start of the year, a number of proposals have been discussed as part of a potential broad overhaul of the tax system.
“As the second largest philanthropic network in the nation, we know firsthand that tax incentives do result in increased giving,” Daroff told the committee members.
He said that while the Federation system has a large donor base, the majority of its dollars come from a relatively small number of “tax-sophisticated” donors.
“In turn, these funds are essential for us to fulfill our charitable mission,” he said.
When officials at JFNA heard about the hearing, they were looking for a chance for one of their staff members to testify. Robin Schatz, director of government relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, set up a meeting with members of Schwartz’s congressional staff to try to get someone on the list of testifiers.
Schwartz, a Democrat and the state’s only Jewish lawmaker, represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. Recently, she was reappointed to the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Schwartz’s office put Daroff’s name forward as a potential speaker, and the committee accepted the recommendation.
Schatz said she wanted someone of Daroff’s “gravitas,” and someone who represents Jewish communities across the country, to speak about changes that could negatively affect charities.