Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, introduced on June 23 the bipartisan Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act to expand the current above-the-line deduction for charitable giving made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March.

The bill, cosponsored by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire; Tim Scott, R-South Carolina; and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, would ensure that Americans who donate to charities, houses of worship, religious organizations and other nonprofits are able to deduct that donation from their federal taxes at a higher level than the current $300 deduction.

Specifically, the bill would make available — for tax years 2019 and 2020 — an above-the-line deduction for charitable giving on federal income taxes valued at up to one-third of the standard deduction — around $4,000 for an individual filer and $8,000 for married joint filers.

“As we face three national crises — a pandemic, recession, and the wounds of structural racism — Americans have responded with a tremendous spirit of generosity,” said Coons. “People of all means are trying to help by giving what they can to help our nation heal and recover, but there’s a divide among Americans who give. One in seven Americans saves their receipt for a tax deduction. The other six, typically of lesser means, do not. That’s unjust, and it’s ineffective. If more Americans were acknowledged for and supported in their donations, there would be more giving, period. That’s why I am proud to support the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act to substantially increase the 2020 emergency charitable giving incentive, to adequately reflect the magnitude of goodwill that so many are showing, and many others are capable of as we work to overcome these crises together.”

In addition to its initial introduction in 2017, Coons and Lankford previously introduced the bill as an amendment to the CARES Act. Although the amendment was not adopted, the CARES Act did provide a charitable tax deduction of up to $300 from federal tax liability.