Policy Alert: Tax Reform Is Happening – Tell Lawmakers to Protect Philanthropy!

This week the U.S. House is slated to unveil tax reform legislation that could have serious consequences for endowed philanthropy. Members of Congress need to hear from grantmakers like you to ensure that, as this bill moves through the legislative process, the ability of foundations to improve lives and support communities is not diminished. 

SECF is urging lawmakers to consider the importance of philanthropy, charitable giving and grantmakers’ missions to strengthen nonprofits and other tax-exempt institutions. To ensure that Southern Philanthropy speaks with one, united voice, this week the SECF Executive Committee approved four policy priorities for tax reform

  • Universal Charitable Deduction: Public policy should encourage charitable giving and all taxpayers should receive recognition for their charitable contributions – a belief shared by many in Congress. Rep. Mark Walker has proposed H.R. 3988, which would create a universal charitable deduction accessible to all filers, even those who do not itemize their return. 

    Rep. Walker’s bill is a good starting point. We are concerned about the caps included in the current bill, which would limit the charitable deduction to about a third of the standard deduction for non-itemizers. Such a limitation threatens to reduce overall giving. However, we look forward to working with lawmakers in the House and Senate to improve this proposal in the hope that such a cap would not become a ceiling that could affect charitable giving. 

  • Private Foundation Excise Tax: SECF has long supported simplification of the private foundation excise tax, freeing up funding for foundations to provide to the communities they seek to improve. We support Rep. Erik Paulsen’s bill, H.R. 2386, to streamline the private foundation excise tax, and hope for its inclusion in tax reform legislation. 

  • Independence of Donor-Advised Funds: We urge Congress to bear in mind the philanthropic sector’s role and value to our communities by encouraging growth in charitable giving and resisting unnecessary regulations that constrain individual donor vehicles, including proposals to require mandatory programmed payouts from donor-advised funds.

  • IRA Rollover to Donor-Advised Funds: SECF encourages the increase of individual philanthropy through donor-advised funds and therefore supports provisions similar to legislation (H.R. 4907) offered in the last Congress by Rep. George Holding that would allow individuals to rollover funds from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to their donor-advised funds.

The House Ways and Means Committee will begin hearings on tax reform legislation next week. These hearings offer a great opportunity for changes to be made to the bill that support philanthropic giving.

SECF has informed committee members of our position on these critical issues, but the most effective way for philanthropy's voice to be heard will be for lawmakers to hear directly from you.

What Can You Do?

  • Tell your representatives to ensure tax reform preserves philanthropy’s ability to improve lives and transform communities.

  • Discuss the areas where tax reform can most help endowed philanthropy – especially the four priorities mentioned above.

Lawmakers want to hear from leaders in the philanthropic community now it’s up to us to reach out and defend the work we do.


If you have questions about contacting your lawmakers, or any other public policy matter, contact Jaci Bertrand, director of member engagement, at (404) 524-0911 or jaci@secf.org.


Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: SECF strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.