Schumer’s Venison Tax Donation Proposal: Good Idea Or Are You Skeptical?

When one of the most outspoken liberal, anti-gun United States senators co-sponsors a bill related to deer hunting, it likely sends red flags of skepticism waving furiously like those battered at the beach by a tropical storm.

By Alan Clemons,
Managing Editor

Donated venison, packaged like this for meals, through programs to help those in need is one way hunters help others each year.

Donated venison, packaged like this for meals, through programs to help those in need is one way hunters help others each year.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined senators in five other states with solid traditions of hunting to propose a tax donation for hunters who donate venison used to help feed the needy. The co-sponsors are Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK) Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Mike Enzi (R-WY).

According to Schumer’s website, the bill, introduced June 20, would capitalize on the millions of hunters and deer in the country and “creates a tax deduction for a hunter that pays to process venison that will eventually be given to a feeding program. This simply means that if a hunter spends money processing the meat, he or she will be able to deduct that amount from his or her taxable income.”

Sounds simple enough. Kill a deer, get a tax write-off if you meet certain guidelines of the donation program.


U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

But do you believe it? Six United States senators, at least one of whom has aligned himself with anti-gun legislation that has affected hunters, banding together for this?

Also from Schumer’s site:

“The legislation also makes tax exempt any income that a processor receives from an anti-hunger not-for-profit. Therefore, if a hunter were to bring in a deer to be processed and donated, and a tax exempt entity paid the processing fee, the processor would not have to pay taxes on that income. This would allow the charity’s dollars to go further because the processor could be reimbursed at a lower rate and still achieve the same after-tax income. This would allow more venison to go to charity per dollar, and allow more processors to take part.”

With this, the processor would get a little bump in the wallet for participating. Schumer said the proposal has multiple benefits: it helps hunters who help manage deer populations, it helps processors and hunters with a tax write-off, and it helps the food bank programs that have seen declines in monetary and venison donations (which affects those who receive the venison).

Look, these donation programs like Hunters for the Hungry are great. They let hunters  donate some deer to a good cause, and the folks getting the packaged venison darn sure appreciate the help. The programs have been going on for years from grassroots to national levels.

Quite honestly, deer hunters probably take these programs for granted or don’t realize the impact. They’re usually low key, low profile organizations run on non-profit or shoestring budgets. They don’t have giant marketing campaigns (not all of them) and are known among hunters but not always among the general public. They get some news stories when deer season starts from outdoor writers and maybe television crews doing features, but that’s about all the love they get. Anything is good, though.

Occasionally, idiotic stuff like this happens and the public says, “Whoa, hunters are helping with this and someone’s upset?” Then a good thing like this happens. The donation programs kind of fade into the shadows again until deer season arrives.

Is this federal “deer donation tax write-off” proposal one of these good things? Proponents likely will say it’s no big deal, that despite the millions of hunters who donate venison each year a small percentage probably would participate.

With processing fees at $40 or more, though, a few donated deer per person could add up. Would states be inclined to increase the bag limits to allow for a “donate deer” that wouldn’t count against a hunter’s annual total? Would state agencies be pressured by a federal senator or congressman to do this, despite what the state’s biologists might recommend? That’s a potential thorn — interference — that is unnecessary and unwanted.

Or is this donation proposal just more government involvement in our lives? Participation is optional, of course. But in a time when many in America are clamoring for less government, is this benign and not really “more” government? Or is it yet another layer we don’t need?

Or is there something deeper going on here, perhaps a feel-good lob to hunters from a mix of U.S. senators before someone else drops a bombshell piece of legislation? Reports have been circulating about more gun control legislation returning soon in Washington. Could this donation legislation be a little glad-handing before the firm grip and steely-eyed stare, a little bit of “Hey, didn’t you see what we did for you with this tax write-off thing for hunters? Surely you can give and bend a little bit on this new legislation, can’t you?”

Schumer said he wants to push this venison donation legislation through quickly, before hunting season arrives. We’ll keep an eye on it and see what happens.

What do you think? Venison donation tax write-off — are you good with it, don’t like it or indifferent? Give us your comments below!