Paul L. Caron

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Thomas: A Charitable Deduction for Volunteerism

Alice M. Thomas (Howard) has published Re-envisioning the Charitable Deduction to Legislate Compassion and Civility: Reclaiming Our Collective and Individual Humanity Through Sustained Volunteerism, 19 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 269 (2010). Here is the Conclusion:

The proposal--the provision of a charitable tax deduction for volunteerism and the launching of a public service campaign to inform the public of the benefits of caring and doing for others--is about inculcating the values of caring, compassion, and civility in our citizenry. Getting individuals to engage with others, face to face, is an investment in the overall quality of community life that we share and enjoy within our civil democracy. By making this investment, we attain a better sense of personal well-being, a greater sense of safety, and an increased capacity to trust in everyone's commitment to our collective well-being. As a result, we all become much more aware of (and conscientious about) the importance of investing in the general welfare of others. This investment redounds to the benefit of us all in direct and indirect ways. Directly, the literature on personal well-being proves that doing for others is spiritually and physically transformative for the volunteer. Indirectly, the investment greatly enriches the prospects for the community and pays dividends in nurturing our collective commitment to fostering a thriving civil society. In the era of President Barack Obama, who personally models volunteerism to alleviate the distress of others, this proposal for expanding what is deductible under the charitable tax laws is indeed timely. The President models what it means to make an investment in one's beliefs and to consciously act on those beliefs with the intent of influencing the well-doing and well-being of social man, woman, and child.

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