UWPNW Position on 2017 Tax Reform Bills

Please read our release below and then click here to contact your elected officials directly.  


For Immediate Release

December 11, 2017

Contact: Jim Cooper, President/CEO 360-451-9053 [email protected]



Portland OR-  As the Senate and House move forward with efforts in federal tax reform, CEO’s from United Ways across the Pacific Northwest plead for the rejection of both versions citing fears that both current versions will result in devastating losses for children and families with lower incomes. 

“The United Way of the Columbia Willamette has, for nearly 100 years, fought to strengthen and improve the lives of children and families in our community,” said Keith Thomajan, President and CEO of the United Way of the Columbia Willamette.  “Proposed changes in the tax code and the methods discussed for balancing the (federal) budget, drastically impact safety net services and historic pathways to self-sufficiency.”

Thomajan and his peers across the region are specifically concerned about areas of proposed tax code change that will affect the financial stability and upward mobility of our community’s most vulnerable.  These areas of concern include: deductibility of interest on home loans and student loans; changes to the Affordable Care Act that will impact cost and quality of care; deductibility of health related costs; dis-incentivizing lower income families to file an itemized return; changes to the charitable deduction; and changes to the Child Tax Credit.   

Dave Underriner, CEO of Providence Oregon said, “As a business-leader, and large-employer, I am a believer in a strong and business-friendly economy.  Yet, national tax reform bills currently under consideration in Congress may include provisions that would negatively impact our region.  We rely on partners like United Way –and the hundreds of non-profits they support—to help build successful kids, stable families, and strong and connected communities.  I am concerned some of the provisions in the tax reform package could erode these partner’s capacity and effectiveness.  At the same time, potential reductions in human services and programs within these bills will increase the need and risk to vulnerable children and families.  That compounding effect of that is of great concern and would have costly and long-felt implications for our state and region.”

Changes to the charitable tax deduction will have a particularly staggering affect on the region’s safety net, programs and services that keep families housed, fed, and stable.  Brian Gallagher, CEO of United Way Worldwide, wrote in a national op-ed: “According to numerous nonpartisan analysts, 95 percent of Americans will be taxed on their donations to charities. As a result, giving to charities will decrease by $13 billion dollars per year. Faith-based, basic needs, social services, and disaster relief charities will bear the brunt of the decrease. Because of our reliance on the middleclass donors, cumulatively, United Ways across the U.S. will face losses between $256 to $455 million per year, significantly impacting our ability to help those who will now be in potentially greater need.” This translates to United Ways across Oregon and Washington facing losses between $5.5 to $9.8 million per year.

“It is key to note that charity-supported services are built on top of government-funded services, and the level of proposed decline in federal spending added to the reduction in charitable deduction would totally destabilize the safety net we have built,” said Jim Cooper, President and CEO of United Way of the Pacific Northwest.  “Not only does federal funding go away, but charitable funding would be that much less effective.”

As a result of these very real concerns for the implications for our communities, our non-profits, and our most vulnerable children and families, we simply cannot support the tax reform bills as they are currently being crafted. 


About United Ways of Pacific Northwest

United Ways of the Pacific Northwest (UWPNW) is the regional association for 33 local United Ways in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.  United Ways in the Pacific Northwest are committed to improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities to advance the common good in the areas of education, income and health.  Our mission is to advance the common good throughout the Pacific Northwest by enhancing the individual and collective ability of member United Ways to impact their communities and collaborate on regional and statewide issues.


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