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Legislative Bills Updates

 

 

AFP U.S. Legislative Update: Contact Your Senators the Week of Thanksgiving: November 20, 2017

 

AFP, the Charitable Giving Coalition and other organizations continue to reach out to the U.S. Senate regarding its tax reform bill and push Senators to support a universal charitable deduction.

As we reach the week of Thanksgiving, we know many of you will be heading out early, but your continued engagement is greatly appreciated.

If you have a few minutes this week, please consider:

1)     Reaching out to your two U.S. Senators and encouraging them to support the universal charitable deduction.

2)     Have your executive director and key board members also contact their two U.S. Senators.

3)     If you have events this week, please consider using mentioning the impact of the tax reform bill and encourage attendees to contact the Senate.

4)     If you’re in Oklahoma, please thank Sen. James Lankford for his introduction of a bill creating the universal charitable deduction.

Find your two U.S. Senators here. You’ll find talking points and a template email below. Thank you for your help in preserving giving and the charitable deduction!

Talking Points

  • The current Tax Reform bills in the House and Senate do NOT preserve the full scope and value of the charitable deduction.
  • Although the charitable deduction is preserved for taxpayers who will continue to itemize, under current Tax Reform proposals, the charitable deduction will NO LONGER be available to 95% of all taxpayers because of the expansion of the standard deduction. That means:

    • Over 30 million taxpayers will no longer have the charitable deduction available to them.
    • Research shows that charitable contributions will DECLINE by at least $13 billion per year, and possibly up to $20 billion annually!
  • This is devastating for our charitable organization and organizations like ours throughout the country. (Insert specifics on your charity)
  • Congress must address this significant negative impact on giving that is being caused by increasing the standard deduction.
  • A growing number of Republicans and Democrats are recognizing the reality of the negative consequences and voicing interest in finding a fix.
  • The solution is a universal charitable deduction for all taxpayers, including those who take the standard deduction.
  • DETAIL, IF NEEDED: One current proposal (The Universal Charitable Giving Act, H.R. 3988/S.2123) would provide allow non-itemizers (those taking the standard deduction) to deduct up to $4,000/individual and $8,000/couple each year once tax reform is enacted.

 Draft Email

Dear Senator LAST NAME:

As the TITLE for the ORGANIZATION in CITY, STATE, I am writing to urge you to include the universal charitable deduction in the current Senate tax reform bill.

The doubling of the standard deduction in the bill will dramatically reduce the number of taxpayers who benefit from the charitable deduction. The Joint Committee on Taxation confirmed that under the bill, 30 million taxpayers would no longer itemize their taxes, reducing the amount of charitable gifts that taxpayers deduct by almost $100 billion.

Research from Independent Sector and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy estimates that charities could see a staggering loss of up to $13.1 billion in contributions annually, equal to 6 percent of all individual giving, while other research shows that giving could drop by almost $20 billion!

This loss in charitable giving will generate significant, negative consequences for America's charitable organizations and the constituents they serve. INCLUDE A SENTENCE OR TWO ON HOW A DROP IN GIVING COULD IMPACT YOUR ORGANIZATION AND ITS CHARITABLE SERVICES.

To offset this giving and ensure that charities receive the funding they need to serve communities across our country, I encourage you to include the universal charitable deduction in the tax reform bill.

A universal charitable deduction available to all taxpayers is simple, fair and would help encourage additional giving to charities. Enacting a universal charitable deduction in the tax bill would overcome the loss in giving from the increased standard deduction.

Please support a universal charitable deduction in the Senate tax reform bill. Without it, the bill cannot live up to its ideal of being fairer and helping all Americans, especially those that depends on the services of charities across the country.


AFP Legislative Alert: Make Your Voice Heard on the New Tax Reform Plan: October 23, 2017

 

AFP is calling on U.S. members to provide comments online about the new GOP Tax Reform Framework that could reduce giving by $13 billion every year.

Synopsis

Go to the GOP Tax Reform Survey website and provide your comments on how the tax reform plan will affect your organization.

Background

The GOP Tax Reform Framework, developed by the White House and key Republican Members of Congress, calls for the standard deduction to be doubled. That change would cut the number of taxpayers who itemize from 33 percent to just 5 percent—a loss of 30 million itemizers! Itemizers account for 82 percent of all giving in the U.S.

Research by Independent Sector and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy estimates that doubling the standard deduction would reduce giving by $13 billion annually. That figure represents a significant decrease—more than 6 percent of all individual giving!

AFP's Response

To address this issue, AFP is calling for Congress to include the universal charitable deduction in the tax reform plan. A universal charitable deduction would allow all taxpayers, regardless of whether they itemize or not, to take a charitable deduction.

The same research above shows that adding a universal charitable deduction to the increased standard deduction results in overall giving increasing by $5 billion! The powerful effect of the universal charitable deduction is enough to overcome any loss in giving when the standard deduction is doubled.

What You Can Do

Go to the GOP Tax Reform Survey website and provide comments about a) what a loss in charitable giving would mean for your organization and b) the importance of adding the universal charitable deduction.

AFP has provided talking points here. Members should feel free to use whatever points they would like and can edit and/or personalize them as well.

Please contact the AFP Public Affairs Department at paffairs@afpnet.org if you have any questions, and thank you for participating in this important public policy initiative.


Analysis: How tax reform could impact charitable giving: October 10, 2017

 

Giving by individuals accounts for nearly three-quarters of charitable giving in the United States, over $280 billion in 2016. Changes to tax policy can have an effect on the incentives individuals and households face when making the decision of how much to give to charity. The U.S. tax code currently encourages charitable giving by individuals who itemize their expenses. Recent tax reform proposals differ widely on how to treat charitable giving.

The full article can be found here.


AFP Public Policy Update: September 2017

 

1. Overall Legislative Environment/Tax Reform

Even with the release of a new tax Framework just recently (see below), the chances of any sort of tax reform seem a bit murky at this point, with factions with the Republican Party seemingly far apart on different elements of a tax bill.

Members of Congress and the Trump Administration have touted the need for tax reform during the August recess and through September. Given that vocal support for tax policy changes, it is still very possible to see a tax bill emerge. Just last week, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on tax reform. Accordingly, AFP has continued its education efforts on Capitol Hill to ensure Representatives and Senators understand the impact of tax reform on charitable giving.

We have been focusing a bit more on the Senate because the Senate could act as a bit of a backstop. House rules make passage of legislation much easier in that body. Thus, the “battle” over tax reform is likely to take place in the Senate.

Initial Framework

The Trump Administration and Congressional Republican tax writers have released an initial tax reform plan, called the Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code

The Framework significantly simplifies the tax code by drastically lowering rates for businesses, creating fewer income tax rates for individuals, adding a much larger standard deduction and child tax credit, and repealing the estate tax. It's not clear yet, however, just how closely Congress will follow the plan during its down deliberations, however, as the Framework was created behind closed doors by just six key players from the White House, Senate and House. The Framework is also very general, omitting key figures and numbers and not going into any detail about how to pay for most of the plan.

Of importance to charities, the charitable deduction is kept in its current form. However, the doubling of the standard deduction and reducing the top individual tax rates may be a huge, negative factor for charities, given research findings on how that would reduce giving every year (see below).

The Charitable Giving Coalition, which AFP chairs, has released a statement, expressing its disappointment with the Framework regarding the impact on charitable giving that could occur without additional giving incentives, such as the universal charitable deduction.

With a plan now released, AFP will be asking members to contact their Representatives and Senators in the near future. Please be ready to respond and follow up to your chapter members with these legislative alerts so as many members as possible get involved. 

Comments Submission

AFP—as well as the Charitable Giving Coalition (CGC), which AFP chairs—have submitted comments to the Senate Finance Committee. The committee asked for comments about tax reform in July, which set the stage for the aforementioned hearing.

Both the AFP and the CGC comments focused on the impact of tax reform on giving and passage of the universal charitable deduction. According to a study completed by Independent Sector and the Lilly School, current tax reform ideas (doubling the standard deduction and capping the top tax rate at 35 percent) are estimated to reduce giving by almost $13 billion annually.

Our Solution: Adding the universal charitable deduction would overcome those losses and actually result in additional giving of almost $5 billion per year. 

AFP’s comments also included a recommendation to expand the current IRA Rollover Provision through:

  • Removing the $100,000 cap on rollovers from an IRA;
  • Allowing IRA rollovers to occur when a donor is age 59½ or older.
  • Permitting the creation of planned gifts through a rollover.

Both submissions noted the impact of fundraising and the charitable sector on the U.S. economy.

Grassroots action by AFP members across the U.S. may be needed at a moment’s notice. AFP will alert members and provide templates for messaging and information on how they can send emails and other communications.

Meetings with Tax/Giving Policy Experts

Part of the Charitable Giving Coalition’s strategy this year has been to meet with our tax and charity experts (tax law professors, think tank specialists, and former U.S. Treasury analysts) to hear their perspectives about tax reform and different giving incentives, including the universal charitable deduction. These meetings have helped inform the coalition’s strategy as the tax issues have become increasing complex.

The meetings have been fruitful in providing us different ideas about implementation of the universal charitable deduction and other giving incentives. They have also proven important in forcing the coalition to explain its position, find common ground when disagreements arise and develop potential compromises that may be necessary during tax reform debate.

Other Tax Reform Provisions

Earlier this year, the CHARITY (Charities Helping Americans Throughout the Year) Act and was introduced by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), along with original cosponsors Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). The bill contains variety of provisions to increase giving and make charity management and oversight more effective and efficient.

While the bill is not like to receive consideration by itself, it’s important because it has bi-partisan support and is sponsored by several Senate Finance Committee members, including Sen. Wyden, the Democratic Ranking Member of the Committee. If tax reform is approved, it’s likely some of these provisions could be included, depending on how extensive the bill is. The bill’s proposals include:

  • Expansion of the current Charitable IRA Rollover to include donor-advised funds as permissible organizations for donors age 70½ to contribute funds to (up to $100,000 annually) from their Individual Retirement Accounts.
  • Simplification of the formula used by foundations to calculate the federal excise tax imposed on investment income.
  • Authorization of the Treasury Department to adopt regulations that align the simplified standard mileage tax deduction rate, which applies to the use of personal vehicles for volunteer charitable services, with the mileage rate that applies for medical and moving purposes.
  • Requirement for nonprofits to file their annual returns electronically, which will promote transparency.
  • Elimination of alternative rules for substantiating charitable contributions, which will help protect donor information and improve tax administration.
  • Creation of a limited exception to the excess business holding tax rules to encourage philanthropic enterprises to donate profits to charity.

AFP will continue to monitor tax reform discussions and will alert AFP members as soon as action is needed.

2. Johnson Amendment

The House of Representatives passed a massive spending on Sept. 14 that contains a provision to weaken the Johnson Amendment, the law that prohibits charities from directly or indirectly attempting to influence an election or defeat of any candidate for public office.

The provision undermines the Johnson Amendment by prohibiting the Internal Revenue Service from spending any funds on determining if a house of worship or its affiliate broke the law. The only exception would be if the IRS Commissioner approves the investigation and Congress is notified well ahead of time.

The language is just one of several attempts this year by Congress and the White House to either weaken or outright eliminate the Johnson Amendment. The issue may come up again when Congress considers comprehensive tax reform. The Senate has yet to pass its spending bill this year, and it’s not clear yet whether or not this provision will be included in the legislation.

AFP announced its position on the Johnson Amendment earlier this year.

3. Public Policy Session at the Leadership Academy

Staff and volunteer leaders involved in AFP’s public policy programs are developing a session at this year’s Leadership Academy focusing on government relations and advocacy.

The session will be part update, part training, part program development and part sharing. You’ll receive up-to-the-minute intelligence from Capitol Hill, including a tax reform overview. You’ll also hear from chapter leaders and AFP’s own advocacy experts on how to build a successful policy program., including chapter and state Lobbing Days and similar events.

The Leadership Academy this year is in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 12-14. AFP encourages all chapters to attend, and urges you to send a representative to this important session.

4. AFP Political Action Committee

The purpose of the AFP Political Action Committee (PAC) is to provide the opportunity for individuals interested in the future of philanthropy and the profession of fundraising to contribute to the support of candidates for Federal office who believe, and have demonstrated their beliefs, in the principles to which philanthropy and the fundraising profession are dedicated. The Committee is non-partisan and dedicated to the protection and advancement of the fundraising profession and philanthropy in its various forms.

AFP encourages all U.S. members to contribute to the PAC. Information about giving to the PAC can be found on the AFP website: https://reports.afpnet.org/portal_add/pac/makegift_pac_form.cfm.

The PAC will be holding a reception at the AFP Leadership Academy on Friday, October 13, from 6:00 – 6:45 p.m. in the Salon H & I Rooms of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza.


Developments Affecting Nonprofits in the 2017 Texas Legislature: August 2017

 

Nonprofit organizations of all sizes and varieties play an important role in public life and are a significant force in the economy. With the growth of the nonprofit sector, government officials, regulators and elected officials increasingly thrust the activities of nonprofits into the public arena. Leaders and stakeholders in the nonprofit sector must identify issues that affect their welfare and sustainability and be prepared to take stands as opportunities or challenges are presented. 

An array of participants in the state legislative process strive to identify, articulate and protect the interests of the Texas nonprofit sector before the Texas Legislature and regulatory agencies. Unfortunately, the policy and lobby presence of the Texas nonprofit community is diverse, disconnected and often passive. 

The Texas Legislature ended its 85th Regular Session on May 29, 2017, and numerous bills were presented as listed here that directly or indirectly affect the interests of nonprofit organizations and state associations. APPENDIX 2 is the final end-of-session summary that lists bills and issues that should be of concern to leaders in the nonprofit sector in Texas and is regularly updated at www.nonprofitlawandpolicy.com

Of the almost 6,700 bills filed, about 1,200 were passed and sent to the governor, who vetoed only 50. This indicates a slim chance of passage in the 2017 session, although the substantive elements of non-moving or dead bills were often inserted into other bills in committee or by House or Senate floor amendment. The state’s budget, property tax reform, limits on local government regulations, education funding and agency reorganization occupied much of the legislators’ time during the 140-day Regular Session and left several unfinished items to trigger a special session beginning in July. 

In this summary, “HB” refers to a House Bill, and “SB” refers to a Senate Bill. 

Bills that passed are underlined in bold and are effective September 1, 2017, unless otherwise noted. 

This summary references only the issues and content of the 85th Regular Session bills included and does not reflect tracking of appropriations bill deliberations or state funding requested or received relating to issues, parties or organizations discussed. Comprehensive state budget data can be obtained from the Legislative Budget Board, www.lbb.state.tx.us

The text of any bill, the bill’s legislative history, and end-of-session status can be reviewed at Texas Legislature Online, www.capitol.state.tx.us, or find background from other sources in APPENDIX 1, Resources and Information. 

The full paper can be found here.


Summary of Issues Affecting Nonprofit Organizations: June 17, 2017

 

The 85th Texas Legislature Regular Session ended on May 29, 2017, featuring more than 7,000 bills and resolutions in both houses that occupied the attention of lawmakers and affected citizens and groups. Compared to controversies and issues in the past, this was a quiet and relatively challenge-free session for the charities, state associations, foundations and other nonprofits that comprise the Texas nonprofit sector. The following summary list of bills and issues includes some highlights: 

  • Applying the Texas “open records” laws to certain nonprofits again received extensive attention and news coverage because of proposals in SB 408 and SB 407, which were championed by media organizations and advocacy groups but shunned or opposed by the thousands of nonprofit organizations that might have been required to comply with the laws. Disappointed sponsors and advocates promise a return to this issue in 2019. 
  • Privatizing state government functions to transfer them to nonprofits or vendors again proved troublesome when human services programs are being “reformed.” HB 6 concerned proposed privatization of state foster care services and burned up an enormous amount of emotional House debate time, only to produce no consensus or final outcome. 
  • Special fundraising privileges for powerful sports clubs were again extended from the opening given in the 2015 session. HB 3125 extends “super-raffle” rights to more professional sports club charities if the voters approve the proposition in November. 
  • “B-Corps” come to Texas through HB 3488, which follows the lead from a score of states that have enacted enabling legislation to permit the formation of for-profit entities that include a commitment to stated public benefits as well as profits for investors. 
  • There were only minor amendments to the Texas nonprofit corporation laws found in Chapter 22, Business Organizations Code. SB 1518 addressed issues relating to Chapter 252 unincorporated nonprofit associations. 

The full summary can be found here.


AFP Public Policy Update: June 2017

 

1. Overall Legislative Environment/Chances of Tax Reform

A lot has been happening in Washington, D.C. over the past couple of weeks (perhaps the understatement of the year!)—though much of it has not been related to the charitable sector. Events like the Comey hearing have sidelined Congress’ attention so it hasn’t been able to focus fully on tax reform, healthcare and other matters.

But it is Congress’ intent to move on key pieces of legislation, and many of these issues are intertwined, as Congressional Republicans had originally expected to use savings from their healthcare reform bill to help fund a tax reform plan. Because of budget deadlines and other factors, Congress has a 3- 4 week window before the planned summer recess to get most of these bills completed.

We have heard, however, that Congress may dispense with their August recess to allow them to work on tax reform during that time. The White House and Congressional Republicans are intent on passing tax reform. Although the current proposals do not restrict the charitable deduction itself, proposals to expand the standard deduction would shrink the pool of donors who itemize their deductions (donors who itemize represent the vast majority of people who give).

Through our contacts with key Congressional staff and members, our work with our partners in the Charitable Giving Coalition, and the AFP Political Action Committee, AFP is advocating strongly for the creation of a universal deduction (see below) that would allow anyone to take a charitable deduction, regardless of whether they itemize or take the standard deduction. We will keep Government Relations Chairs and other chapter leaders updated as the situation on Capitol Hill develops. 

2. Research on Impact of Tax Proposals on Giving

New research conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that the current tax policy changes proposed by Congress and the Administration would reduce charitable giving by up to $13.1 billion.

The study used the 2014 Tax Reform Act introduced by then House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) to estimate the potential effects of tax policies on charitable giving. The tax proposal released by the Administration last month and the Republican legislators’ proposal both closely mirror the Camp proposal with respect to reducing the top marginal tax rate and increasing the standard deduction.

On the other hand, researchers also found that adding a charitable deduction for non-itemizing taxpayers (a universal deduction) to the policy proposals would likely more than offset the loss in charitable giving from the proposals and generate up to $4.8 billion in additional charitable giving.

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Extending the charitable deduction to non-itemizing taxpayers by itself, without the other proposals (e.g., increasing the standard deduction), could generate up to $12.2 billion in additional giving. 
  • Reducing the top tax rate to 35 percent and increasing the standard deduction combined have the potential to REDUCE charitable giving by up to an estimated $13.1 billion.
  • The study estimates that those two proposals (reducing the top tax rate to 35 percent and increasing the standard deduction) combined would reduce charitable giving to religious congregations by up to 4.7% and reduce giving to other charitable organizations by up to 4.4%.
  • If enacted separately, either of these proposals (reducing the top tax rate or increasing the standard deduction) would reduce charitable giving.

The research could help influence the debate on Capitol Hill about tax reform related to charitable giving and the deduction. There will be a Congressional staff briefing in late June to highlight the research and help educate staffers about these important issues. 

The Charitable Giving Coalition distributed a press release about the new research, calling on Congress and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to pass a universal charitable deduction that would be available to all taxpayers.

3. Letter to Ways and Means Committee

The Charitable Giving Coalition, led by AFP, sent a letter in early May to Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee, encouraging them to safeguard the charitable deduction as they begin to debate their own tax proposals for the year.

The letter was written in response to President Trump’s summary tax plan and delivered to Ways and Means Committee members just before they headed to a weekend retreat to discuss tax reform.

“We were pleased to see that the Trump Administration’s tax reform package did not include any limits, caps, or other changes to the charitable deduction,” said Jason Lee, interim president and CEO of AFP and chair of the Charitable Giving Coalition. “But the package did include a substantial increase in the standard deduction. That proposals would reduce the number of taxpayers who itemize their deductions from one-third to just five percent. That’s nearly 30 million taxpayers who will no longer have access to the charitable deduction, likely leading to a decrease in giving.”

The letter called on legislators to make the charitable deduction available to all taxpayers as a non-itemizer or universal charitable deduction. This change would retain the current levels of giving experienced by charities across the U.S. and could possibly incentivize giving even more.

AFP and the Charitable Giving Coalition also continues to work with Democrats and Independents as well to create strong levels of support for the charitable deduction across Congress.

4. Public Policy Session at the Leadership Academy

Staff and volunteer leaders involved in AFP’s public policy programs are developing a session at this year’s Leadership Academy focusing on government relations and advocacy.

The will be part update, part training, part program development and part sharing. You’ll receive up-to-the-minute intelligence from Capitol Hill, including a tax reform update. You’ll to hear from chapter leaders and AFP’s own advocacy experts on how to build a successful policy program., including chapter and state Lobbing Days and similar events.

The Leadership Academy this year is in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 20 – 22. AFP encourages all chapters to attend, and urge you to send a representative to this important session.

5. AFP Political Action Committee

The purpose of the Committee is to provide the opportunity for individuals interested in the future of philanthropy and the profession of fundraising to contribute to the support of candidates for Federal office who believe, and have demonstrated their beliefs, in the principles to which philanthropy and the fundraising profession are dedicated. The Committee is non-partisan and dedicated to the protection and advancement of the fundraising profession and philanthropy in its various forms.

AFP encourages all U.S. members to contribute to the PAC. Information about giving to the PAC can be found on the AFP website:https://reports.afpnet.org/portal_add/pac/makegift_pac_form.cfm.


Tax Policy Proposals Would Reduce Charitable Giving, New Study Finds

 

Lowering top rate, raising standard deduction cuts donations; adding non-itemizer deduction increases giving, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy research suggests

Tax policy changes proposed by Congress and the Administration would reduce charitable giving by up to $13.1 billion, new research conducted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy indicates.

Researchers also found that adding a charitable deduction for non-itemizing taxpayers to the policy proposals would likely more than offset the loss in charitable giving from the proposals and generate up to $4.8 billion in additional charitable giving.

The study used the 2014 Tax Reform Act introduced by then House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) to estimate the potential effects of tax policies on charitable giving. The tax proposal released by the Administration last month and the Republican legislators’ proposal both closely mirror the Camp proposal with respect to reducing the top marginal tax rate and increasing the standard deduction.

The study was commissioned by Independent Sector, a national membership organization of nonprofits, foundations and corporations, with funding from Leadership 18, an organization comprising national human service nonprofits.

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Extending the charitable deduction to non-itemizing taxpayers by itself, without other proposals, could generate up to $12.2 billion in additional giving.
  • Reducing the top tax rate to 35 percent and increasing the standard deduction combined have the potential to reduce charitable giving by up to an estimated $13.1 billion.
  • The study estimates that those two proposals combined would reduce charitable giving to religious congregations by up to 4.7% and reduce giving to other charitable organizations by up to 4.4%.
  • Each of these proposals alone (reducing the top tax rate and increasing the standard deduction) also would reduce charitable giving.
  • Adding a non-itemizer deduction while lowering the top tax rate to 35 percent and increasing the standard deduction would likely more than offset the amount of charitable giving that would otherwise be lost under those two proposals, generating an estimated additional $4.8 billion in giving, beyond the offset.

“When talking about changes in tax policy, it is important that the debate is informed by research. This study provides important information about the expected effects of the proposed tax policy changes and the extension of the charitable deduction to non-itemizers,” said Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean for academic affairs and research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Much of the research on this topic relies on tax data from itemizing households only, but by using data from the school’s Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS) and the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the new study includes giving by both itemizing and non-itemizing households and can isolate the giving behaviors of each. PPS allows the study to track behaviors of the same 9,000 households over time and provides more information about the households studied. It uses a much larger and nationally representative cross-section of lower- and middle-class households—the households who would be the most affected by extending the charitable deduction to non-itemizers.

By combining the researchers’ approach to calculating the effect of a change in tax price among different income brackets with PPS data about household giving by non-itemizers, the study is able to estimate the different effects that the proposed policies would have on different income brackets. The use of PPS data also allows researchers to estimate the relative effects that adding a non-itemizer deduction would have on giving to religious congregations as compared to giving to other charities.

Download the full report.

About Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change in the world. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research, and international programs, and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Learn more. Follow us on Twitter @IUPhilanthropy and “Like” us on Facebook.

(This press release was distributed by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and reprinted here with permission). 


Government Relations Update: March 2017

 

Several important developments have occurred on Capitol Hill, and we encourage you to keep your chapter membership apprised of these issues through articles in your chapter newsletter and presentations during chapter meetings. You can re-purpose this information and other articles in any way you’d like.

1. Johnson Amendment Sign-On Letter of Support

AFP has been working with the National Council of Nonprofits and other organization to support the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits charities from engaging in electoral politics and raising funds for political candidates. While AFP International already has signed on to the letter, we encourage chapters to sign on as well. The deadline is March 31.

To sign on to the support letter, click here: https://www.givevoice.org/community-letter-support-nonprofit-nonpartisanship

You can see AFP’s official position on the Johnson Amendment here: http://www.afpnet.org/Audiences/MemberNewsDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=42417

2. Trump Administration’s 2018 Budget Blueprint

In mid-March, the White House released a Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Blueprint. While not a formal, detailed budget for 2018, the document provided a high-level overview of key spending priorities and included significant cuts to numerous federal departments and agencies. The Blueprint can be found here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf

The Nonprofit Times noted that “President Donald Trump’s first federal budget proposes deep cuts in discretionary spending to many departments that impact nonprofits while boosting financial support to defense, homeland security and veterans’ affairs.” These cuts included the elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service, National Endowment of the Arts, and The Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program, which provides funds to local food banks and Meals On Wheels.

AFP released its official position on the budget blueprint on March 17. You can find the full statement here:http://www.afpnet.org/Audiences/NewsReleaseDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=42847

3. Tax Reform

With healthcare reform likely concluded for the foreseeable future, Congress is, according to most sources, now looking at tax reform. It’s still unclear how the charitable deduction and other giving incentives might be affected. We will keep chapter government relations chairs updated as debate begins to crystallize around certain tax plans, and will provide alerts if immediate action is needed.

4. State Bills-Rhode Island

AFP International assisted the Rhode Island Chapter in providing comments to the General Assembly about H. 5621, a bill that would have created unconstitutional and burdensome disclosure requirements for professional fundraisers and solicitors in the state. The chapter submitted comments opposing the bill to the Corporations Committee. During a hearing, it was decided that the legislation would be kept in the committee for further study, meaning it is likely done for the year.

Just as a reminder, if you hear about state bills or local proposals and/or regulations that are being considered, please do not hesitate to contact the AFP Public Affairs Department at paffairs@afpnet.org. We can assist in developing official comments, position statements, communications to members and other resources.

5. AFP Political Action Committee

The purpose of the Committee is to provide the opportunity for individuals interested in the future of philanthropy and the profession of fundraising to contribute to the support of candidates for Federal office who believe, and have demonstrated their beliefs, in the principles to which philanthropy and the fundraising profession are dedicated. The Committee is non-partisan and dedicated to the protection and advancement of the fundraising profession and philanthropy in its various forms.

AFP encourages all U.S. members to contribute to the PAC. Information about giving to the PAC can be found on the AFP website:https://reports.afpnet.org/portal_add/pac/makegift_pac_form.cfm.

In addition, there will be a PAC reception at the AFP International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco on April 30 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sierra J Room of the Marriott Marquis. Come by, learn about the PAC’s work and make a contribution.

Again, feel free to use these updates, articles and position statements in your own newsletter, or just cover the highlights if you want to summarize.

If you’d like to set up a meeting with your local member(s) of Congress, contact AFP IHQ at paffairs@afpnet.org, and we can provide talking points and other resources. And as always, if you hear about local


Legislative Contact Information

 

The following resources are provided to help increase awareness of your place in the legislative and government budget allocation process.  We believe in the power of our members to change and support our communities.

Alliance for Justice is a national association of more than 100 organizations which represent a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society.  Utilize this website to learn about nonprofit advocacy, including the rules regarding lobbying, the definitions of lobbying, and lobbying limits for nonprofit organizations.  There’s even a “Getting Started” section dedicated to nonprofits considering creating an advocacy or public policy initiative.

Examples of the resources provided:

Public Charities CAN Lobby, Guidelines for 501(c) (3) Public Charities

What is Lobbying?

Electing the 501(h) Expenditure Test

Be sure to check out The Alliance for Justice Nonprofit and Foundation Advocacy program helps foundations and nonprofits influence policy and public opinion byoffering workshops, examples of documents, and technical assistance.

The Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest encourages you to “Make a Change for your Cause”.  The CLPI works to promote nonprofit advocacy and create systemic change in three related ways: messaging and outreach, training and presentations, protecting and expanding the rights of nonprofit lobbying rights.  Check out the“Nuts and Bolts” section of their website for helpful PDFs on topics such as: “Lobbying Tactics” and “Advocacy Tactics”.

The Texas Legislature Online an essential resource for finding bills, following the status of a bill, reviewing hearing schedules and contacting your legislator. 

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern. This website covers multiple legislative topics impacting the state of Texas.


Priority Issue: Building on the Charitable IRA Rollover

 

Late in 2015, Congress reached agreement on a package of tax bills which President Obama signed that made several charitable giving incentives permanent, including the Charitable IRA Rollover. That provision allows taxpayers over 70½ to make donations directly from an IRA and will not be taxed on the amounts—up to $100,000.

AFP’s next priority is to build on that victory and expand the application of the Charitable IRA Rollover Provision. For example, The CHARITY Act (S. 2750) would make donor-advised funds an eligible charity for purposes of the IRA rollover law. Read the eWire article on the CHARITY Act here.

In addition, the IRA Legacy Act, (HR 5171) would now expand the Charitable IRA Rollover by enabling IRA owners age 65 or older to transfer up to $400,000 per year (for individuals 70½ or older, the combined ceiling for direct and life-income transfers from their IRAs is $400,000, with a $100,000 cap for direct transfers) from their IRA to a life-income plan, including charitable remainder trusts and charitable gift annuities.

AFP is currently advocating in general for the expansion of the Charitable IRA Rollover, talking with various Congressional offices about chances of passage this year. We are also keeping an eye on the Congressional calendar and seeing what legislative vehicles will move this year and if a Charitable IRA Rollover could be attached to it.

AFP is not asking for action right now, but growing member awareness about these issues at chapter meeting is important.


Secondary Issue: IRS ACT Report and Recommendations

 

The Exempt Organizations (EO) Subcommittee of the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities, co-chaired by AFP President and CEO Andrew Watt, FInstF, has released its annual report to IRS leadership. This year’s report, “Stewards of the Public Trust:  Long-Range IRS Planning for the Future of the Exempt Community,” makes 12 recommendations to the IRS to prepare it for its future work in overseeing and regulating exempt organizations. 

The recommendations include:

  • Ensure that EO staff are equipped to carry out the responsibilities of EO
  • Give exempt organizations the tools they need to be tax compliant, including detailed audit data, relevant, user-focused guidance and an easily navigated website          
  • Assure cyber integrity both through technology tools, data collection and secured cyber storage
  • Foster two-way communication between the IRS Exempt Organizations division and the nonprofit sector by finding ways to solicit input from a greater number of voices (including small nonprofits) and provide open channels for stakeholders to take issues to the IRS.

In connection with the report, the subcommitee conducted extensive interviews with EO leaders, practitioners, and regulators to identify challenges and gaps for the IRS regarding its oversight of and guidance to the sector.  

While AFP is currently taking no action on the report, we will be working with the IRS and others to ensure the recommendations are supported and enacted.

The full report can be found here.


FYI: Charitable Giving Coalition Responds to Op-Ed on Trump Plan

 

In May, Senator Judd Greg (R-N.H.) suggested in a column in The Hill newspaper (published in Washington, D.C. and read significantly by members of Congress, staff and other policy makers) that  Donald Trump “could cut tax rates dramatically” and pay for it by “slicing back the major deductions such as those for health insurance, state and local taxes, and charitable donations.”

The Charitable Giving Coalition, which AFP chairs, responded with a letter outlining the impact and value of the charitable deduction. The full letter can be read here.