A few weeks ago I announced a new column-writing policy:

A full-length column one week, followed by a sort of “week off,” freeing up as much as 2 ½ working days of research, writing, revising, rewriting, carefully editing the final draft—the time and effort that goes into a regular full-length column.

On my “off” weeks, I promised something which I would hope would draw my readers back to the www.haroldandersen.com website every week—perhaps no more than a cartoon or two but enough to attract readers and remind them that I will be back full-length the following Thursday.

As regular readers have discovered, I can’t resist the temptation to offer a shorter-than-usual commentary or two on some of my “off-week” Thursdays.  This is the case today:

“Tax Reform” Would Go Too Far
If It Taxes Philanthropic Gifts

For months now there have been brief references to Congressional action to provide additional federal tax revenue by limiting the amount which a taxpayer can claim as a philanthropic contribution from the taxpayer’s taxable income.  An ominous implication for the future of philanthropic giving, but no focus on specific levels of giving beyond which a taxpayer could not claim a deduction from taxable income.

Earlier this week I heard some specific possibilities, offered by a supposed knowledgeable commentator on the possible tax law changes under discussion as a way of raising more federal tax dollars.

This supposedly knowledgeable commentator suggested that the deductibility of philanthropic contributions might be limited to $40,000 or $50,000 a year.  Any contribution above that would not be deductible from taxable income.

This, of course, would be a disaster for worthy causes which are financed in substantial measure by contributions by major supporters.   Consider:

Suppose a generous taxpayer has been accustomed to giving at least $100,000 a year in contributions which currently can be deducted from his taxable income.  Change the law with a $40,000 or $50,000 limit on the extent of tax-free contributions.  If this generous individual were to continue giving at the $100,000 or more level, he would be required to pay taxes on $50,000 or $60,000 of income which he had given away.

Current tax law empowers the federal government to follow you into your grave with an estate tax on money on which, in many cases, you have already paid taxes while living.

Now the possibility of levying a tax on money which you no longer have because you’ve given it away.  I have written several times that I believe an increase in tax rates must be part of any effort to keep the annual issuance of IOU’s by a federal deficit-obsessed government under some reasonable control.

But requiring generous Americans to pay federal income taxes on income which they have given away is a giant step too far.

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A Safety Lesson For Bird Hunters
In A Father/Son Accident In Iowa

As I see it, that Iowa father who shot his son in the head—not fatally but seriously enough to require hospitalization—while they were hunting pheasants together is one lucky, careless hunter, at least in the incident which has received considerable publicity earlier this week.

The father said that he was practicing correct hunter safety procedures because he knew where his son was in relation to the possible field of fire and he kept the gun on safety-lock until he raised it in preparation for shooting at a pheasant.

But then, according to the father’s own account, he stumbled, lost control of the gun and it discharged, with some of the shot hitting the side of the son’s head.

If this account is accurate, the father was violating one of the cardinal rules of safe hunting:  Shoot only from a position where your balance is assured, when you have stopped walking and thus have assurance that you won’t stumble.

In a news conference, the father was quoted as saying:  “It was just one of those situations that you can’t control…I could see my gun, but I couldn’t correct it.”

But there would have been no “correction” required if the father hadn’t stumbled.  And the father wouldn’t have stumbled if he had stopped, with his feet firmly and safely planted.  Let’s hope that the well-publicized, near-tragic incident conveys that safety message to every hunter who reads or hears the story.

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I haven’t forgotten my promise to share some of my favorite cartoons with you:

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