Snowe: Volunteers Closer to Relief From High Gas Prices as Cardin and Snowe Join With Schumer and Ensign to Reintroduce Bill to Allow Changes to Charitable Mileage Deduction Rate
Sep 24 2008
U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) joined forces with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and John Ensign (R-NV), along with Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), to introduce updated legislation that would provide relief to volunteers who use their personal vehicle for charitable activities. Under current law, mileage rates for charitable activity are fixed under the Internal Revenue Code at just 14 cents per mile. However, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas has more than doubled in the last eight years and far outpaces the deduction limits.(D-MD) and (R-ME) joined forces with (D-NY) and (R-NV), along with Senators (D-WI), (D-MD) and (R-IA), to introduce updated legislation that would provide relief to volunteers who use their personal vehicle for charitable activities. Under current law, mileage rates for charitable activity are fixed under the Internal Revenue Code at just 14 cents per mile. However, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas has more than doubled in the last eight years and far outpaces the deduction limits.
The new bill introduced Monday, the Giving Incentives to Volunteers Everywhere Act of 2008 (GIVE Act/S. 3532), would give the IRS discretion in setting the mileage deduction rate for volunteers and charitable organizations, which could be as high as (or higher than) the business mileage deduction but not lower than the deduction for moving and medical expenses. Currently, the IRS is able to increase the deduction amount for medical, moving and business expenses to reflect current economic conditions because the rate is not written into the law.
"This is a win-win for volunteers and the people who so desperately need their help in the midst of our current economic crisis," said Senator Cardin. "I am proud to stand with so many leaders in the U.S. Senate who understand that Congress has a responsibility to act swiftly, so that the IRS can ease the burden on charitable volunteers who share their time and resources with some of our most vulnerable citizens."
"As the cost of a barrel of oil jumped $19 dollars yesterday, it is critical that we work to keep high energy prices from deterring charitable acts and volunteerism," Senator Snowe said. "This bipartisan legislation will alleviate transportation costs for volunteers and bolster the charitable community in this economically turbulent time."
"The size of the gas mileage deduction for charity workers is paltry and antiquated. Right now, charities are being punished because the law has not kept pace with the spike in gas costs. The bottom line is, delivering meals on wheels shouldn't put you in the fast lane to the poor house. I have long urged this fix because it will allow charity workers to keep doing their important work despite the pain at the pump," Senator Schumer said.
"Too often our laws and regulations become outdated," said Senator Ensign. "This is yet another example, and the result is that current law discourages people from volunteering. The reimbursement rate for charitable deductions for mileage driven needs to keep pace with the cost of gasoline. Fortunately, a broad bipartisan group of Senators is pushing for this bill to become law so that the IRS can fix this technical glitch and volunteers can be justly compensated for the costs they incur driving seniors to the hospital or delivering food to those in need."
Congressmen John Lewis (D-GA) and Jim Ramstad (R-MN), Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, introduced identical legislation, the Fair Deal for Volunteers Act (H.R. 6854), earlier this month.