Giertz said that option might encourage more giving in other areas, however, because taxpayers who chose not to itemize their deductions could still claim the nonrefundable tax credit.
Another option the CBO studied in 2011 involved adding a minimum amount to the size of the gift a taxpayer could claim.
"If we had a floor like a fixed dollar floor … that's probably not going to affect at all the giving from high income people that give a lot maybe to educational institutions," Giertz explained. "It might affect a little more moderate giving people."
But Giertz said either of these options would have to be part of a larger package of changes to achieve enough savings to bring the country back on good footing.
"Given the fiscal problems we're looking at, you can't just scale back the charitable deduction," Giertz said. "Problems are just too big for that."
And J.D. Foster of the right-leaning Heritage Foundation said taking away any deduction amounts to a tax increase that would not get at the root of the issue.
"In my view, the central fiscal problem we face is the federal government spends far too much, and will soon be spending far more as the entitlement programs balloon," Foster wrote in an email. "Until the President gets serious about this and puts forward substantive ideas on how to reign in federal spending, especially the entitlements, then there is not even a wisp of justification for talking about any tax hikes."
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