The state has a provision that exempts charities from the 100% deductible charitable deduction limit that the federal government imposes on federal taxes, but it does not include charities as eligible for it.
In the last budget, the state made this exemption contingent on the charities paying the full amount of the charitable deduction in the previous year.
However, the exemption has been called a “loophole” by a leading Boston attorney who represents charitable organizations and who wrote to the state this week, alleging that it “violates the Constitution and common law.”
In an open letter to state legislators on Wednesday, the attorney, Stephen B. Brown, asked for a public hearing on the issue and urged lawmakers to “protect the commonwealth’s citizens and taxpayers from the perverse incentives and abuses that may result from the provision.”
The Massachusetts Association of Charitable Organizations and the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce have previously filed an amicus brief opposing the exemption, arguing that it is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
The exemption has also been described by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association as a “bully pulpit” for the state’s largest charities.
“There is a constitutional right to be able to be charitable,” Brown said in the letter.
“The exclusion is an abuse of that right.
It is an abdication of that constitutional right.
The privilege to be free of federal taxes cannot be abused.”
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, the Commonwealth’s Department of Revenue said that it has no plans to remove the exemption.
“The exemption for charitable deductions was created in 2010 to help the state combat the burden that charities and their employees must carry on the state treasury,” the statement said.
“We appreciate the Attorney General’s letter and look forward to responding to his concerns in due course.”