Rockhelle JohnsonThe Tax Overhaul and Philanthropy

By: Rockhelle Johnson In: Public Policy

4 Feb 2011

During their first hearing of the 112th Congress, House Ways and Means Committee members gathered on January 20—in a bipartisan spirit—to begin the first of many discussions on the committee’s desire to reform the country’s federal income tax system.

The last major reform of the federal tax system took place 25 years ago with the Tax Reform Act of 1986, a piece of landmark legislation that broadened the tax base and reduced marginal tax rates on individuals and businesses. Since then, marginal rates have risen, the tax base has narrowed, and the tax code has been described by many as substantially complex. In his opening statement, Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich. 4) described the ’86 tax reform act as having been loaded with “a dizzying array of credits, deductions, exclusions, and exemptions.” He later went on to say the tax code is “too complex, too costly, and takes too much time to comply with.”

It was clear throughout the hearing that both Republicans and Democrats are in accord that there is a need to reform the federal tax code and that this is the time to do it. However, it is the method of “doing it” that appeared to be the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif. 21), and several others on the committee from both sides of the aisle, stressed the need to move forward with reforming the federal tax code in a bipartisan way.

Throughout the hearing there were several questions raised, including if tax cuts pay for themselves, what can be done to encourage job growth domestically and whether individual and business tax reform should be done separately or together?

By the end of the hearing, it was clear that the process of reforming the federal tax code will be a very long, deliberate, and complicated one. But we will be watching…

Rockhelle Johnson is an advocacy coordinator at the Council on Foundations

3 Responses to The Tax Overhaul and Philanthropy


February 5th, 2011 at 9:47 am

and what does this have to do with philanthropy? It sounds like they were just scratching the surface of the current tax codes. What is COF’s position on ways to improve the tax regulations?

Curt Wi

February 9th, 2011 at 6:35 am

Good information Ms. Johnson.

It is some what refreshing to see that congress recognized the problem with the current tax system. Hopefully, they can make some significant progress with definitive action and not just the normal rhetoric.


Recent Fundraising Headlines and Blogs - February 15, 2011 | Fundraising Headlines

February 14th, 2011 at 3:14 pm

[...] Tax Overhaul and Philanthropy… [...]

Comment Form

Welcome to RE: Philanthropy! In this blog, guest and Council bloggers share ideas and insights on the most pressing issues in philanthropy. If you want to contribute, please contact

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Council on Foundations.


John Kobara
Jeff Pickering and Susanne Norgard
Kelly Shipp Simone
Rhonda R. Mims
Nicole Taylor
Tom Vilsack
Albert Ruesga
Peter Kostishack
Terry Kaelber
Bo Miller
David Styers
Peter Berliner
Eva Nico
Jeff Hoffman
Rajasvini Bhansali
Caroline Altman Smith
Chris Rurik
Cris Stainbrook
Javier Alberto Soto
Ellen Remmer
Jennifer Leonard
David Colby
John Colgan
Niki Jagpal
Katherine LaBeau
Jackie Franey
Patrick Gaston
Trabian Shorters
Virginia Esposito
Matt Charles
Laura Meyer
Angelle Fouther
Dinah Waldsmith Dittman
Sophia Guevara
Sheri Booms Holm
David Etzwiler
Suzanne E. Siskel
Michael Moody
Dan Hymowitz and Heather Lord
Marika Lynch
Richard Sussman
Peter Laughran
John Feather
Bryan Del Rosario
Aaron Dorfman
Kisha Green Dimbo
Steven Lawrence
Jeff Clarke