Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., made a stop in Bend Thursday, one of several where he's talking about issues related to charitable giving -- a timely issue at the holidays -- and vowing to fight to preserve tax deductions that help fuel donations.
After answering questions from students at Summit High, Wyden and officials with several non-profits spoke the Bend Senior Center about tax reforms that could affect local charities and your tax deductions.
A new year means new tax reform proposals, and Wyden said every issue is on the table, including charitable tax deductions. President Obama has proposed a cap for these deductions in the coming year.
Wyden said he teamed up with Republican Senator John Thune from South Dakota to work against that proposal.
He noted that element of tax reform could reduce the amount of money you're able to deduct for giving to charities like Meals on Wheels, the United Way or the Bethlehem Inn.
After the news conference, Wyden rode along with a local non-profit, Meals on Wheels, and delivered meals to senior citizens on a frigid day in Bend.
"The charitable deduction in America is a lifeline and not a loophole," Wyden said.
It's a lifeline connecting a community of helpers with those in need. And Central Oregon is a particularly large group of givers.
"We are looking at a budget of $700,000, the majority of which comes from businesses that have a motivation to help us out," said Gwen Wysling of the Bethlehem Inn.
Wyden isn't concerned the amount of people giving would decrease, because he said that the reason people give isn't primarily because of tax deductions. He is concerned, however, that people might give less money.
One thing is for sure, the need for giving is not going away. In fact, it's increasing.
"Our needs are up, and so is the demand on how we can get that work done on a daily basis," Wysling said.
The days are getting colder here in Central Oregon, adding even more stress on organizations trying to help. That hasn't stopped charities, though.
"It's pretty cold here in Central Oregon, but I'm meeting a lot of warm hearts," Wyden said.