Fiscal Cliffhanger: An open letter to our government

Christine Colleran

To the United States Government:

Hello there. My name is Christine Colleran. You may not know me, for in the government’s eyes my short existence has proved utterly unremarkable in every way, shape, and form. Still, I carry on. I am senior at Grand Valley State University, and, more importantly, I am the chief executive officer of a small non-profit organization, Holiday Helpers MI.

Holiday Helpers is one of the many charity organizations that exist in this country. We are in the lowest tax bracket and we accept no government help or aid. We are an entirely volunteer organization, and rely on fundraising efforts and the support of the community to operate our company and get presents to hospitalized children. We may be nothing to you, but your decisions surrounding the fiscal cliff could very well become everything to us.

In case you have conveniently forgotten, you are proposing a limit on tax benefits of donating to charities for the wealthiest individuals in America. You are attempting to change the tax break that these individuals get for donating. Guess what, we non-profits were already struggling in a floundering economy, but now we are scrambling.

If you haven’t the time to look over things, I am going to remind you that your administration is currently considering major budget cuts in the non-profit sector. As a result, these organizations are going to have to rely more heavily on private donations. However, should you go through with implementing a limit or change in the tax break wealthy American’s receive for donating, these organizations may not be able to persuade wealthy donors to give up their money.

Not everyone can afford to donate millions of dollars to charities, but a select few can – and we need their donations. A tax break is an incentive, and if you don’t have enough of an incentive – the donating will simply not happen at the same rate. Wealthy individuals who are determined to donate will have to make choices as to where they give their money, and needy charities as well as smaller charities like Holiday Helpers will suffer.

Should such a financial plan be implemented, some people who need help simply will not get it. The United Way expressed concern that in the face of the budget cuts and changes in tax breaks they will no longer be able to help people at the bottom of the economic spectrum. The YMCA, Family Foundations, and Community Foundations are just a few organizations that have voiced similar responses.

You may not know me; you may never know my charity organization. But we are here. Every single day we are working to serve the citizens of this country. Every single day, organizations with a bigger and sometimes more necessary outreach program work to ensure that the people of this country sign up to donate their organs, have clothes to wear to school, give blood, and so much more.

Your budget cuts could easily keep some citizens from getting said help. You may not know their names, but they are alive, and they are important. Try to remember to think twice before you make budget cuts and implement a tax incentive reduction. America needs us, I can promise you that.
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