Dear Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden:

We are writing to urge the Senate to immediately consider and pass HR 644, the America Gives More Act, which would permanently extend three expired charitable giving incentives – food donations, conservation easements, and the IRA rollover. The repeated expiration and retroactive renewal of these charitable giving incentives create tremendous uncertainty for individuals, families, and businesses who want to provide donations to help their communities, and for the charitable organizations working to meet the needs of the communities in which they are working. For Feeding America food banks, the incentives in HR 644 to expand and improve the food donation tax deduction are vital to our efforts to increase the amount of nutritious food we are able to distribute to the 46.5 million struggling Americans who turn to us for help each year, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors.

The charitable tax provisions in H.R. 644 have encouraged individuals and businesses to actively support the development and sustainability of our society.

Feeding America food banks and emergency food providers continue to be stretched meeting sustained high demand as millions of families across the nation continue to struggle in the wake of the recession. As the economic recovery has left many behind and still struggling to get back on their feet, it is critical that food banks have the resources required to meet the need in their communities. Congressional inaction on this legislation takes a high toll on the amount of food donated to our food banks and on the environment with 70 million pounds of food wasted each year.

Since its inception in 1976 and expansion in 2006 to include small businesses, this tax provision has proven to be a targeted and effective way of encouraging companies to donate excess nutritious food to serve the nation’s hungry. However, under current law, most farmers and growers cannot take the enhanced tax deduction because they use cash method accounting. While they want to donate, the costs of donation are often prohibitive without the enhanced deduction and billions of pounds of nutritious food that could be donated are wasted.

H.R. 644 and similar legislation introduced by Senators Leahy, Cochran, McCain, Stabenow, Blunt and Casey (S. 930, the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Act) expands the food donation tax extender enacted in 2006 to farmers, growers and ranchers and makes it permanent, resulting in millions of increased pounds of nutritious food donations for our nation’s food banks.

Charity can only meet the need in communities nationwide with strong partnerships and donations from businesses along the farm to fork continuum. The businesses of all sizes that donate excess food each year understand this and are committed to working with Feeding America and other local nonprofits to ensure that excess food is donated to those in need, and tax legislation plays a key part in establishing successful food donation programs.

A majority of the food that moves through the Feeding America network comes from donations from food manufacturers, retailers, farmers and restaurants. However, despite their generosity, food donations simply are not keeping pace with the staggering increase in demand.

In 2006, Congress took a needed first step in enacting part of the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Act by allowing non-C corporations to take the same enhanced tax deduction when donating food that C corporations had been able to take since 1976. This provision has helped numerous small businesses make the decision to donate food rather than dump it in a landfill, with Food Donation Connection reporting a 127 percent increase in pounds of food donated by restaurant clients. Unfortunately, the temporary nature of the provision limits its full potential in diverting food from the landfill to the food bank.

It is absolutely critical that Congress finish what it started in 2006 by expanding the food donation tax deduction to farmers and growers and making it permanent. We urge you to pass H.R. 644 as soon as possible

Thank you for your consideration and support. We look forward to working with you to increase available food for the more than 46 million Americans who are turning to their food banks for help each year.

Sincerely,

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