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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Former House Speaker Paul Ryan and President TRump. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Charitable donations in the U.S. dropped an inflation-adjusted 1.7% to $427.7 billion in 2018, the first overall drop since the Great Recession, according to Giving USA's annual report.

The big picture: Giving by individuals dropped an inflation-adjusted 3.4% to $292 billion as a result of changes in the federal tax law and a dip in the stock market late last year, despite an overall strong economy, the Wall Street Journal reports. Giving by individual Americans had previously grown for four straight years by at least 2.4%. In 2017, U.S. giving exceeded $400 billion for the first time.

The new GOP tax law increased the standard deduction and thereby reduced the number of Americans who could benefit by itemizing their deductions — thus diminishing the "direct federal incentive" to donate to charity, according to the Journal.

  • The number of households expected to use the deduction dropped from 37 million to 16 million after the tax rewrite, according to the Tax Policy Center
  • "Households earning more than $1 million per year nearly always itemize," Axios' Felix Salmon wrote in November. "They accounted for 30% of itemized charitable donations in 2015; expect that number to rise even further."

The bottom line: "Donations tend to rise when the economy and stock market are strong and when natural disasters occur," which wasn't the case this year, WSJ's Richard Rubin writes.

Go deeper: National deficit grew 20% last year, partially due to Trump tax cuts

Go deeper

Cyber war scales up with new Microsoft hack

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last week's revelation of a new cyberattack on thousands of small businesses and organizations, on top of last year's SolarWinds hack, shows we've entered a new era of mass-scale cyber war.

Why it matters: In a world that's dependent on interlocking digital systems, there's no escaping today's cyber conflicts. We're all potential victims even if we're not participants.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
26 mins ago - Science

Spaceflight contests and our future in orbit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wealthy private citizens are increasingly becoming the arbiters of who can go to space — and some of them want to bring the average person along for the ride.

Why it matters: Space is being opened up to people who wouldn't have had the prospect of flying there even five years ago, but these types of missions have far-reaching implications for who determines who gets to make use of space and for what.

1 hour ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: America looks for the exits after a year of COVID

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A year after the coronavirus abruptly shut down much of the country, Americans are watching for a clear signal of when the pandemic will be over — and most won't be ready to ditch the masks and social distancing until they get it, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.

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