Metro charities expect new GOP tax plan will initially boost donations, but there’s a catch

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- "This is God sent!" Taela Emery exclaimed Friday as she came out of the Salvation Army. "God sent really good people down here who need help. This is amazing."

For some metro families like Emery's, Christmas came early this year.

"It's a Christmas giveaway where you pick gifts for your children," Michelle Sappington explained as she shopped with her granddaughter.

Parents and grandparents walked through rows of tables filled with toys at the KCK Salvation Army Harbor Light campus.

"This is the first time I've ever been through this," Emery said, "and it's just amazing. I could just cry right now."

Every ball, every doll, every game on the tables is donated. Every year around this time, people give more to charities. The Salvation Army said it will see more donations in the last two days of December than the entire month of November.

But as 2017 ends, those donations to charities like the Salvation Army might be even bigger. Charities credit that uptick to the 2018 tax plan just signed by President Donald Trump.

"There's that tax benefit," Major David Harvey said. "If they do their personalized deductions, they'll be able to get that kind of help. Next year, that won't be there."

But nonprofit leaders worry donations will dry up when 2018 hits because the itemized donations incentives are gone.

And that will ultimately impact the people asking for assistance with utilities, or those working with the homeless, or the people picking out two toys per child at the Salvation Army.

Major David Harvey also highlighted a worry with the estate planning.

"Losing that deduction is a challenge as well," he said Friday, "because those estate gifts impact a lot of our long-term planning. A lot of our facilities that we construct to care for individuals, a lot of the maintenance that needs to be done comes from those estate gifts, to sustain the programs."

Keep your receipts handy for your itemized deductions. If you donate goods, make sure you get a receipt when you drop it off at the donation site. Many organizations now accept online donations, which email you a receipt. Fox 4's Love Fund for Children is one, and the Salvation Army is another.

The Salvation Army is struggling to meet its donation goal for the year: $8.4 million. It has 60 percent raised but said it is especially in need of monetary donations.