WH threatens veto on charitable tax breaks

The White House on Thursday threatened to veto a House package of tax breaks aimed at spurring charitable giving.

In a statement, the Obama administration said that it “wants to work with Congress to make progress on measures that strengthen America’s social sector.”

But the White House says the House proposal goes in the wrong direction, by approving tax breaks without offsetting their costs.

“Republicans are imposing a double standard by adding to the deficit to continue and create tax breaks that primarily benefit higher-income individuals, while insisting on offsetting the proposed extension of emergency unemployment benefits,” the White House said.

The House measure, set for a Thursday vote, is the Republicans’ latest effort to restore a string of temporary provisions, commonly known as tax "extenders." Most House Democrats have opposed those proposals because of their costs, though dozens have voted with Republicans.

The White House has consistently vowed to veto the bills, which face a climb to become law.

The latest legislation would permanently extend and expand the charitable deduction for food donations and restore indefinitely a provision allowing tax-free contributions from certain retirement accounts.

It would also allow taxpayers to claim donations made until April 15 on their previous year’s tax return, extend a tax break for landowners who conserve their property, and reduce taxes for certain private foundations’ investment income.

The measure would cost roughly $16 billion over a decade, far less than some of the other tax incentives the House has extended indefinitely. For instance, an expanded writeoff for businesses passed last week would cost some $287 billion over a decade.

The White House said Thursday that the House is seeking to install some $500 billion in new tax cuts, wiping away recent efforts at deficit reduction.

More than 800 charitable groups backed the House proposal this week. Three of the incentives are among the tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013, while two are new proposals.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has been seeking to extend some of the lapsed provisions without expiration dates, to help spur momentum for tax reform. Republicans have also said that Congress has often restored the extenders without offsetting their cost.

The Senate is instead seeking to extend most of the more than 50 lapsed tax incentives for two years.