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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

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.

54 mins ago - Health

America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The race to figure out just how dangerous the Omicron variant is will likely be a global effort, but some experts are skeptical that the U.S. will play a dominant role.

Why it matters: The CDC has repeatedly come under fire for inadequate data collection throughout the pandemic — and figuring out how to respond to Omicron requires a lot of data that doesn't currently exist.

U.S. faces urgent anti-hacker crisis

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Biden administration is accelerating efforts to fill nearly 600,000 vacant cybersecurity positions in the public and private sectors bogging down efforts to protect digital infrastructure.

Why it matters: Following a deluge of ransomware attacks targeting critical government and corporate infrastructure this year, clogs in the talent pipeline are leaving federal, cash-strapped local governments and Big Business even more susceptible to hacking.

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