• Central Florida charities worry new tax rules will mean fewer donations

    By: Angela Jacobs


    ORLANDO, Fla. - A week ago, President Donald Trump signed into law a sweeping tax reform bill that has got local charity organizations worried that they could start to see a sizeable dip in the amount of donations they receive each year.

    The new tax plan increases the standard deduction for an individual to $12,000 and $24,000 for a married couple.

    With that, Robert Stuart, executive director of the Christian Service Center, worries that fewer people will itemize their deductions, which, for many, include charitable donations.

    If the Christian Service Center starts to see fewer donations, it will dramatically affect the organization’s mission, Stuart said.

    The Christian Service Center’s mission is funded by donations, from individuals, corporations and foundations, as well as grants.

    It means nearly half a million people this year across its three locations were able to have a hot meal, Stuart said.

    Volunteers working six days a week serve about 400 meals weekly at The Daily Bread, which is an arm of the Christian Service Center.

    Stuart said 40 percent of his organization's donations come from individuals.

    Thirty percent of all donations are given in the month of December, just ahead of tax season.

    Stuart believes the people who donate to his organization do so because they believe in its mission, so he hopes there won’t be a drop in giving.

    With less incentive to itemize deductions like charitable giving, though, even a small decrease in funding could have a large impact, he said.

    “If that drops 10 percent, that means we have a significant challenge about how to create increased revenue to continue to serve people,” Stuart said.

    He believes any dip in donations will eventually level off as people better understand the new tax laws.

    “Deep down inside, we want people to give to us because of what we do together in our ministry, and in our community,” Stuart said. “We think that’s going to stay the same.”

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