US Charitable Deduction Issue Looms Large for Churches Also

Synagogues are not the only religious institutions caught in the current economic downturn. The past three years have also been financially tough for America’s churches. But just as a glimmer of hope began to surface this past year, the federal government’s desire to tinker with the charitable tax deduction has most church leaders concerned.

According to the just released “State of the Plate” constituency survey of more than 1,500 congregations, 43 percent saw giving increase this past year (up from 36 percent last year).

When asked about the federal government’s plan to modify the rules concerning charitable tax deductions, 91 percent of church leaders expressed concern that this would negatively affect giving.

This year’s State of the Plate research also showed that 39 percent of churches saw giving decline this past year. While the Pacific Coast states showed the greatest declines in church giving in 2008 and 2009, the Southeast states experienced the heaviest declines in 2010. Smaller churches, those with attendance under 250, saw giving decline more than larger churches.

The research further shows that a significant number of churches are concerned about financial integrity and accountability – 94 percent make their financial statements available to members, 73 percent have a finance committee, 56 percent conduct an internal audit annually, and 36 percent have invested in a CPA audit in the past 3 years.

eJP note: anyone know of comparable information for synagogues?