Jenny EriksonIn the last week of any given December, I can usually be found scrambling to get everything done that must be done before that ball drops at Midnight on the 31st and all of a sudden, it’s a new year. Basically, I spend the week making sure that anything we need to claim on our taxes for that calendar year is out the door and in the mailbox.
One of the biggest parts of this process is making sure that we’re ‘caught up’ on our charitable giving. We budget a certain amount of money from each paycheck for charity. A portion of that goes to our church, and the rest goes into a fund that we can draw from when we are moved to do so.
Thankfully, the money that we give to recognized organizations is still tax-deductable. This is wonderful because it allows us to give more to those that need it, since we get to pay with pre-tax dollars. This also means that if I want to file my taxes with a certain amount of charitable giving claimed, I need to get those checks in the mail before the calendar year clicks over.
Occasionally I am accused of being a Republican Mean Girl because I don’t like welfare. Not liking welfare somehow translates into my not being willing to help those in need. On the contrary, I do enjoy giving my time and resources to those that have fallen on hard times -- which is exactly why I don’t like welfare. Every dollar I am taxed to support various entitlement programs is a dollar I don’t have to give to someone that needs it.
Charity is all about personal choice. I get to choose who I support – missionaries, battered women, sick kids, earthquake survivors, single moms, or even abused and abandoned pets. If I don’t think the money is being spent wisely, I can choose to give it to someone that needs it more. I don’t have the luxury of doing that when the government gets involved, and as we’ve seen time and again, fraud runs rampant in a welfare state, giving a bad name to the truly downtrodden.
The government also has a much higher overhead than private organizations. For every dollar I give to Uncle Sam for welfare programs, seventy cents is lost in bureaucracy and overhead. In contrast, 90% of charities spend at least 65% of incoming donations directly on those in need. Not only does the government deprive me of choosing which causes I’d like to support, it does a shoddy job of redistributing the wealth.
I believe in people. I believe that when a need arises in a community, others will rush to fill that need. After all, America is the most charitable country in the world. Now please excuse me, I need to make sure I have all my deductions in order for 2010, so I can get a teeny break on my taxes and hopefully send a few extra bucks to someone that needs it.