Sen. Wyden defends charitable donation tax breaks

PORTLAND, Ore. - President Barack Obama wants to cap charitable deductions for high-income taxpayers, but he has a fight on his hands against lawmakers from both sides of the Senate.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat, is teaming with Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota to oppose the end of the charitable-giving tax breaks.

The proposal is part of Obama's plan to limit itemized deductions. Right now, the highest-level taxpayers can deduct nearly 40 percent of their donation. The president's plan would cap the deductions at 28 percent, part of sweeping tax code reform that he hopes will boost federal revenue.

Wyden and Thune are members of the Senate Finance Committee. They've drafted a letter stating their opposition to the plan because charities could suffer with fewer and smaller donations.

"The charitable deduction is the only provision in the tax law that encourages taxpayers to give away a portion of their income for the benefit of others," Wyden told KATU. "For that reason, it is not a loophole, but a lifeline for millions of Americans in need."

Wyden insists he's not just protecting the rich.

"I don't take a backseat to anybody in terms of the need to clean up the abuses and sweetheart deals that litter that tax code," Wyden said. "But let's be clear that charitable donation is not one of these."