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each of the remaining outyears. Since even nonitemizers are now permitted to claim a deduction for charitable mileage, the increase cannot be attributed solely to an increase in the number of people claiming exemptions unless there is a corresponding increase in the number of miles driven on behalf of charitable activities, which, in turn, will further decrease the demand for federal rev
Another argument that has been advanced in opposition to the increase in the volunteer mileage deduction is that “of the difficulty in identifying and quantifying the amount of indirect costs in operating privately owned vehicles for charitable purposes that are properly attributable to the charitable endeavors." The problem with this argument, as we see it, is that it assumes a difficulty that would not, in fact, be present since the volunteer mileage rate deduction would be tied to the business/Federal employees' mileage deduction rate. Indeed, 1167 and S. 1579 will simplify the regulatory burden of the Treasury Department because there will be one rate and one formula to determine that rate.
Moreover, arguments which argue current law, as opposed to arguments which examine the merits of the proposed change, are not really arguments but rather statements in support of the maintenance of the status quo. Mr. Chairman, let's look for a moment at the maintenance of the status quo. In 1957, the year prior to the institution of the volunteer mileage tax deduction, the average cost of a gallon of gasoline in the United States was 30.9¢ a gallon, and the allowable tax deduction was $0.07 per mile. During 1983, the average cost of a gallon of gasoline has been $1.27 and the allowable tax deduction $0.09 per mile.
Looking at these figures in another way, we see that during the last 25 years the allowable tax deduction for charitable privately owned vehicle use has increased by 28.6 percent, while during the same period, motor fuel has increased by 310 percent. Likewise, in 1957, the allowable deduction represented 22.7 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline, but by 1983, the allowable deduction represented only 7 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline. For today's driver to maintain parity with the volunteer driver of 1958, in terms of percentage of cost, he would have to be allowed a deduction of $0.28 a mile.
Mr. Chairman, the volunteer community is not asking that the volunteer mileage deduction be raised to $0.28 a mile. Instead, the volunteer community is only asking for a parity with persons who, today, use their automobiles for Government and commercial purposes. We believe that this is not only a fair request, but a responsible request as well.
Mr. Chairman, it came to my attention this weekend that the Small Business Administration reimburses its volunteers in the Service Corps of Retired Executives, SCORE, with 20.5 cents a mile. I would be happy to respond to any questions that you might have.
Senator ARMSTRONG. Thank you very much. We will be back to you in a moment. Mr. Chromy, am I saying your name correctly? Mr. CHROMY. Yes, sir.
Senator ARMSTRONG. Mr. John Chromy, you are here to represent the board of directors of VOLUNTEER. We are very happy to have you with us.
STATEMENT OF JOHN CHROMY, MEMBER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, VOLUNTEER: THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Mr. CHROMY. Thank you, Senator. As I sit here, it is amusing to myself that I am delighted to be here to testify in support of these two bills for three reasons. First of all, it is kind of a personal one. I have been a volunteer all of my life. And when I heard I was going to testify on behalf of this, I put in a telephone call to my brother and my nephew, both of whom are small town boys in Minnesota, who work and earn salaries ranging about $11,000 to $13,000 a year, and both of whom serve as emergency medical technicians and run along with 16 other men and women in that community the town's only ambulance service. And I asked them if it would make a difference to them and their colleagues if they were able to get an additional 10 or 15 cents a mile deduction for all the mileage that they put in every time that beeper goes off, and they run out of church or leave their work at the grocery store or their job as a stock clerk in the Minnesota valley engineering program, and run off to grab that ambulance and get out there and help people who have had accidents and so on. Both my brother and my nephew said, "My God, John, that can only help. And I would be delighted if there was some way that that kind of thing could be arranged." I mention that only because I think my brother and my nephew are one of tens of hundreds of thousands of men and women in the communities across the country who do just this kind of thing.
I am also delighted because I was out of town during 2 weeks in July down at Baton Rouge, La., where the program that I work for, the special Olympics, was conducting its international special Olympics games. I was delighted to come back to Washington and find out-because when you come back to Washington you seldom expect to hear good news in July and August-the good news that you had scheduled this hearing, and that you were going to speak up for at least let people speak up for-the 92 million people who volunteer in this country. That was good news and a delight for me to have. The third reason I am delighted to be here is because I consider it a real privilege and an honor to be at the same table with people representing two of our Nation's largest and certainly the most super volunteer organizations who have done so much for the country, both the Association of Junior Leagues and the American Legion. I know we could not run special Olympics without the volunteer help from both of those organizations. In special Olympics this past year, we calculated that probably we had 137 million hours of volunteer time to help a million mentally retarded athletes have a chance to train and compete in sports. That is the kind of thing we are supporting and trying to protect with this bill.
Senator ARMSTRONG. How many hours did you say?
Senator ARMSTRONG. I didn't mean to interrupt. I wanted to be sure I had heard that correctly.
Mr. Chromy. Yes, sir. That is our calculations. That is what it takes to have a million mentally retarded athletes trained, be coached, practice, compete in sports throughout the year instead of be sitting in State institutions or being hidden at homes in closets because people are ashamed to have them in public. That is just one small program compared to everything that is going on at the Legion and the Junior League and others are doing.
So that is my introduction. I am here on behalf of the board of Volunteer, an organization that constantly tries to encourage and assist volunteer movements in the country. I bring you, Senator, greetings from Gov. George Romney, our chairman of the board, a man who you know has committed his life to volunteer service, in addition to his public service and his personal service. Since 1972 when he left his Cabinet post, he formed the National Center for Voluntary Action, which our current agency is a descendant, and he has been fostering volunteer spirit in this country ever since that time. He regrets he cannot be here. He sent me as kind of a third string substitute and I will do the best I can.
We, too, have written testimony which I will submit for the record. I will just highlight the key points, and I will do my best not to repeat the things they said because they said them very well.
We, of course, support your bill and the bill of Senator Durenberger to raise the volunteer mileage to make it equal to that provided either to private business deductions or to government employees who use their privately owned vehicles for volunteer mileage. We support it because we think it is important to continuing to have the kind of volunteer service that has been identified here this morning. It is important to avoid knocking people out of volunteer service because they no longer can afford the expense. We have some indication that that is starting to happen. We have talked to some of the leaders of the retired senior volunteer program, which has some 300,000 volunteers across the country. They find that some of their volunteers are starting to back out because they can no longer afford the transportation costs that are involved. We would particularly hate to see that with senior citizens who are giving of their time because they most often are on fixed incomes.
The people here have already talked about the size of the volunteer community. We know its 92 million people. It is not only that I think it is that number of people-I think it is the thing that they do that really is important here. Our country was founded on volunteer service. It was built by volunteers. They opened the lands; they built the towns; they built the communities; they did the traditional barn raisers. They still do them out where I grew up and come from and where my family still is in Minnesota. I am sure they still do them in small communities in Colorado. Not only that, they man the firetrucks, and they man those ambulance in many of those communities. I live in Prince Georges County, Md., which is a relatively large community. We have some professional firemen, but we have a lot of volunteer firemen. When that whistle blows in Prince Georges County, people still leave their jobs, jump
in their cars and drive to the source of that tragedy and go to work to help make it happen. Those are the kinds of people we are_continuing to support. They raise the funds to fight cancer. They combat birth defects, and they raise the funds to battle heart disease. Those funds that they raise multiply that that the government appropriates for those kinds of things. The volunteers we are talking about are the ones who filled the sandbags when there are floods; they are the ones who come to the fires and other disasters; they work in support of the local churches, the arts programs that were mentioned. Volunteers give in excess of 11 billion hours of service each year in this country, service which has been valued by the Gallop Poll of 1981 and in the independent sector as a minimum of $40 billion worth if we had to pay the minimum wage to have all these people do these services: $40 billion. If you calculate in any sort of increased level for the various professional services involved, it would be roughly $64 billion as a best estimate of what that is worth if our society had to pay for those services. By comparison to that kind of money, the $100 million deficit in revenue that our Treasury colleagues envision I think is pretty small. We would like to emphasize the other because I think we want to keep that growing. I think the administration does, and certainly those who are committed to the American tradition of a free society and a society that takes care of its own and meets its needs wants to see that kind of thing continue.
I think there are two other significant factors that I would like to enter in the record that haven't already been mentioned. As someone who administers a volunteer program and having talked over the years to administrators of volunteer programs all across the country, probably the single most difficult volunteer service to arrange and keep going and consistently make available is that of transportation: getting the people who can drive the kids to the programs; getting the people who will pick up those senior citizens and take them to their medical treatments; get those meals out to the folks who are locked at home; finding volunteer drivers who have access to vehicles and keeping them going and keeping them available is probably consistently the most difficult volunteer assignment to fill. I think my colleagues would agree with that. Part of it is it just costs one whole chunk of money to have a car and to continue to provide that service. As they indicated, the cost of gasoline and everything else, as you rightly indicated to our friend from the Treasury, that 9 cents a mile no way does it come near what it costs you to run that vehicle unless you are driving some sort of a little motor scooter, and then you can't take very many people to the hospital. It is clear that if I am a pharmaceutical salesman and I am in a private business, and I am driving to the hospital to sell my product, I can depreciate 20 cents a mile for my work to go and sell those products. On the other hand, if my neighbor wants to take a sick person to his kidney dialysis at the same hospital, the most he can deduct is 9 cents a mile. As you rightly pointed out, given his tax bracket, we are coming down to 3 cents a mile. Those are very, very serious discrepancies.
Our country wants these people to continue to provide these services. We recognize that without these services our society, as we know it, could not continue to exist. Most of the good of Ameri
can society would fall by the wayside if we did not have people providing these services. I think we need to make it happen.
The other important factor, along with the difficulty of finding people to do this transportation, is that if our organization or the Cancer Society or anyone else had to reimburse people at 20 cents a mile for the miles that they put on—and this happens. When you administer a program, a volunteer comes in and says, you know, Mr. Chromy, "I like doing this, but I just cannot afford to do it so often. I am only going to be able to do it once in 2 weeks or once a month instead of every week because I just cannot come up with the funds any more." What happens, as an administrator, you start to say, "Well, let me see if we can shake out some of the money and reimburse you for more of the mileage," and so on. What that means, of course, is the Cancer Society or the Heart Association or the rest of us have to then raise more money, more cash contributions, to pay the 20 cents a mile. So it becomes a double burden. Not only can't you find people, but you can't pay for it.
With that, Senator, I would like for you to know that our organization strongly supports your efforts on behalf of the volunteers. We hope that you will do everything you can to pass it, and we will do everything we can to help make it possible. Yes, the revenue issue is a serious one—and we know the deficit problem is a serious one-I think our organization, Volunteer, and I assume some of our colleagues as well, would be willing to work with you on the passing of legislation that would establish the principal of equity and provide even 1-, 2-, 3-year periods to build up to the equity amount. But it is important that we say to the volunteers and the public we believe in it. It is as important as our private sector. It is as important as the service that government employees provide. And we are committed to raising that allowance up to and equal to those folks. If we do this it will encourage our volunteers to continue this important service. And in addition, it will provide recognition of the special contributions of America's volunteers. It will show that the President, the Congress, and all of our society cares about the work of these special people, and it will show that this legislation like to service our volunteers. Senator, it is not only needed and important but it is right and it is just. Thank you very much.
Senator ARMSTRONG. Thank you, Mr. Chromy.
[The prepared statement of John Chromy follows:]