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Last chance for Michigan tax break for donations

Kyle Moroney • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:17 AM

The 50-percent tax credits — up to $200 for a couple giving $400 — end this week, along with other tax credits that cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“We’re sad to see it go,” said Holly Johnson, vice president of development for the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation. “But I guess if it’s what’s needed to bolster our state, then that’s what we need to do.”

The tax credit expiration will effect community foundation endowment funds statewide — something that has been in existence for more than 20 years at GHACF, according to Johnson.

While the banished tax credits could effect the local foundation’s year-end budget, the organization doesn’t expect to see a major dip in donations.

“There’s a lot of generous people out there and we’re sure they’re going to continue supporting the organizations that they have supported in the past,” Johnson said. “... As the Michigan tax credit incentive for charitable giving ends, we assure donors who have given in this way in the past, and through the remainder of 2011, that your contributions to our endowment will continue to benefit our organization forever — that’s the real power of endowment.

“Gifts made after the start of 2012 will have as much value to us and the lives we touch — regardless of changes to the state tax code,” she added.

Gov. Rick Snyder — who, along with the state Legislature, also killed the Michigan Business Tax effective Sunday — said Michigan is moving to a system that is “simple, fair and efficient.”

Critics say killing the charitable tax credits at the end of a lengthy recession is poor public policy, especially with unemployment still high and the state cutting welfare rolls.

Leah Rust, assistant director at Love INC Tri-Cities, said the tax credit incentive was an “added benefit” for those who donated to the organization and will likely continue donating regardless of the tax credit.

“It absolutely helped (with donations),” she said. “But I think people will still give to Love INC — just maybe not to the degree they were before.  ... They believe in the organization and what we stand for, and choose to give anyway (regardless of any tax incentive). I think there’s a lot of people in the community who feel that way — we’re a faith-based community.”

The Detroit Free Press contributed to this story.

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