Wednesday, November 30, 2005
A diverse coalition of charities filed an amicus brief on Nov. 14 in the Supreme Court case Wisconsin Right to Life v. Federal Election Commission urging the court to protect the right of nonprofits to broadcast grassroots lobbying communications."
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Taking pleasure in the pain of others isn't the Christian thing to do. But conservative churches may be forgiven for feeling a bit of schadenfreude after the revelation this month that the Internal Revenue Service is threatening to revoke the tax-exempt status of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif. - one of the nation's largest liberal congregations.
Many evangelicals have been complaining for years that IRS regulations muzzle free speech of clergy from the pulpit. Now that people on the left are stirred up by the IRS threat against All Saints, people on the right are hoping to find common cause in challenging the IRS."
Monday, November 28, 2005
By Grant Williams
A bill passed by the U.S. Senate last week to encourage charitable giving is worrying some nonprofit leaders. They fear that a key provision in the legislation, if enacted into law, could put a damper on giving by Americans with modest incomes who itemize on their tax returns.
The Senate-passed measure — included in a comprehensive tax bill that deal with many areas beyond charitable giving — was designed to spur donations in several ways. The chief method would allow people who do not itemize deductions on their tax returns to write off a portion of their charitable donations. Individuals could write off the sums above $210 that they donate each year to nonprofit organizations; couples filing jointly could write off the amount that exceeds $420."
November 24, 2005
California is a difficult place to find balance, at least when it comes to legality surrounding state charity poker laws. Even state-based newspapers can't agree on the subject, with media coverage varying from the good being done by poker players and fundraiser tournaments, to the fact that in California charity fundraisers are officially illegal throughout the state. "
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
'The Council on Foundations has consistently supported reform and we believe that reform is best defined in the consensus recommendations advanced through the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector.
We believe that the charitable reform provisions included in the Senate Tax Relief Act of 2005 are much improved from those originally proposed by the Senate Finance Committee staff in a June 2004 discussion draft. However, there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed during the upcoming House-Senate conference on the bill."
Monday, November 21, 2005
Posted by: laurakujawski on Monday, November 21, 2005
Topic Public Works and Advocacy
Diana Aviv, president and CEO of Independent Sector, explains why IS supports the Tax Relief Act of 2005.
Independent Sector supports a package of charitable giving incentives and reforms included in the Tax Relief Act of 2005. As modified by a managers’ amendment filed late last night, the bill reflects many of the recommendations made by the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector, which was convened by Independent Sector. These provisions would correct abuses by taxpayers who claim excessive tax deductions and by individuals who use charitable organizations for personal gain. It also includes several tax incentives for charitable giving that IS has long advocated. "
by John Dart
A large, progressive Episcopal church in southern California, warned by the Internal Revenue Service that its tax-exempt status may be at risk over a preelection antiwar sermon delivered last year, says it intends to fight what it calls 'unsupported' assertions by the federal agency.
The IRS, citing a newspaper account of a guest sermon at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena on October 31, 2004, said that the sermon by retired ex-rector George Regas may have violated IRS rules against endorsing political candidates.
Friday, November 18, 2005
The Chronicle, 11/18/2005: Senate Passes Measure on Charity Tax Breaks, Restrictions on Nonprofit Groups
By Grant Williams
The U.S. Senate on Fridaypassed legislation containing incentives designed to encourage charitable giving while also taking steps to ensure that donors are not inflating their tax write-offs. But the bill would also remove a key incentive for some donors.
Among the key provisions of the measure: People who do not itemize deductions on their tax returns would be allowed to write off a portion of their charitable donations. Individuals could write off the sums above $210 that they donate each year to nonprofit organizations; couples filing jointly could write off the amount that exceeds $420."
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Senate Finance Committee Approves Charitable Reform Bill
Charitable reform legislation has moved out the Senate Finance Committee by a vote of 14-6 and is headed for the full Senate. It’s a good news/bad news scenarios for charities. It could go to the full Senate as early as today (Nov. 16).
The good news is that the legislation includes provisions for tax deduction for non-itemizers and changes to allow IRA rollovers to nonprofits. The bad news is changes to how non-cash gifts will be valued, how charities account for property received and the receipting process."
PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 16, 2005
At the heart of All Saints Episcopal Church's battle with the IRS is a 2004 sermon entitled 'If Jesus debated Senator Kerry and President Bush.' (CBS)
(CBS) It was a fiery sermon, aimed far beyond the Sunday parishioners.
'The IRS Agents are welcome in our pews,' Rev. J. Edwin Bacon says during a recent sermon, but adds, 'they are not welcome in our pulpit.'
The reason, CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes reports is the Internal Revenue Service is taking on the popular and liberal All Saints Episcopal church in a fight for its very survival. "
CHARITIES: Local resale shops question proposed master value list
BY KELBY HARTSON CARR
This story ran on nwitimes.com on Thursday, November 17, 2005 12:45 AM CST
'Tis the season for cleaning out closets, dragging bags full of retro clothes to the nearest resale shop and cashing in on a tax break.
Legislation under consideration in the U.S. Senate could alter the way people contribute clothing and household items to charities.
It would allow donors to get a tax deduction even if they don't itemize on their IRS taxes, which local charities heralded as a way to encourage giving. The donation must total at least $210 for a single filer, or $420 for joint filers."
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By Joanne Kelley, Rocky Mountain News
November 17, 2005
Tax write-offs for charitable gifts have long been reserved for those who itemize on their annual returns, but Congress appears ready to give everyone an incentive to open their wallets to needy causes.
The move to allow deductions by the roughly 75 percent of taxpayers who can't write off gifts because they don't itemize could take effect in 2006, now that lawmakers have included it in a key piece of pending tax legislation.
Local groups say the change could go a long way toward boosting charitable giving in the state. Colorado ranks 46th in the nation for its generosity, according to a 2004 index by the Catalogue for Philanthropy.
'Anything we can do to motivate charitable giving in Colorado is important,' said Charley Shimanski, president of the Colorado Nonprofit Association, which represents roughly 17,000 charitable groups."
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
After postponing the markup three times and significantly modifying the contents of the bill, the Senate Finance Committee finally approved its version of the tax cut reconciliation bill Tuesday evening, 14-6. The bill would increase the deficit by a net of $60.2 billion over the next five years. The committee was originally scheduled to markup the bill last Thursday morning, but ran into opposition from Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to provisions to extend cuts to capital gains and dividend taxes, the heart of the Bush tax cut plan. As recently as this morning, Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) was unable to compile a package that would win the support of all Republicans on the committee but eventually convinced conservatives on the panel that removing the tax cuts for wealthy Americans would not put the issue to rest."
"Overall, the Senate bill includes many more tax breaks, including new deductions for charitable giving and private mortgage insurance premiums. It also tightened some tax shelters, curbed tax breaks for charitable giving and shaved tax breaks used by oil companies.
Senate tax writers would also prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting millions more taxpayers next year. Lawmakers must act each year to prevent the levy, designed to prevent the wealthy from escaping taxation, from hitting less wealthy taxpayers. House tax writers left that provision out of its bill."
PLAINFIELD – A U.S. Senate committee found no evidence that the Islamic Society of North America, based in Indiana, helped to finance terrorism, officials said.
The Senate Finance Committee sought the tax records of two dozen Muslim groups in December 2003.
Committee leaders said they were looking at the “crucial role that charities and foundations play in terror financing.”"
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
NCPG - National Committee on Planned Giving: "NCPG CO-SPONSORS CONGRESSIONAL C.A.R.E. DAY (11/10/05)
AFP CO-SPONSORS CARE DAY EVENT ON CAPITOL HILL
(Nov. 14, 2005) On Tuesday, Nov. 8, AFP participated in Congressional CARE Day to urge Congress to pass the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act before the end of this session.
AFP joined with 20 other charitable and nonprofit organizations in meeting with more than 60 Senate offices during the event. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) addressed the participants during a luncheon and thanked them for their efforts to raise the profile of the bill, S.1780.
By Jeff McDonald
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
November 15, 2005
Ethics and accountability in the nonprofit sector might seem like a slam dunk. After all, no one goes into charity work for the money, right?
But the truth is, the world of philanthropy has been plagued by fraud, self-dealing and other moral lapses in recent years, leading Congress to consider the most sweeping reform of the nonprofit sector in decades.
Yesterday, about 100 charity executives and board members attended a University of San Diego symposium examining how stricter oversight might affect the work they do.
Not surprisingly, nonprofits are divided over the need for the broader regulations likely to come their way."
Monday, November 14, 2005
BY MARK MINTON
Posted on Sunday, November 13, 2005
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Congress has trained its eye on what charities and their donors are doing with their money and their tax breaks.
A review begun more than a year ago by the Senate Finance Committee is expected to produce a first spate of reform proposals this week — a prospect that has some charities on edge.
The committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, has led the push for measures that he has said would make charities more accountable to taxpayers and donors. Charities, represented by Independent Sector, a Washington coalition, have acknowledged that gaps in laws contributed to some recent high-profile abuses."
By Josh Kleinbaum, Staff writer
Churches, school boosters and other nonprofit groups are calling the government's bluff, raising thousands of dollars through wildly popular Texas Hold Em poker tournaments that state officials say are illegal.
Two years into the nation's no-limit poker craze, organizations have found that tournaments are easy and more profitable than bake sales, car washes or other types of fund-raisers.
The baseball team from West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch made $12,000 in October, for instance, while the Make-a-Wish Foundation brought in a whopping $60,000 in an August tournament hosted by Kings star Luc Robitaille.
But the state attorney general's office says most charity poker tournaments are illegal, and the organizer could face a year in jail or a $5,000 fine for the misdemeanor violation."
By Deirdre Gregg
Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle)
Updated: 7:00 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2005
The Puget Sound area's thousands of nonprofit organizations may be required to pay for independent audits and also be subjected to other new rules, if two of the state's top regulators have their way.
In an attempt to lay the groundwork for new legislation during the upcoming 2006 legislative session, the offices of the Secretary of State and the Attorney General have been circulating draft revisions to the charitable solicitations act and the charitable trusts act. And while many nonprofits are not yet aware of the regulatory effort, some nonprofit advocates strongly suggest that the proposals are too restrictive and costly."
Friday, November 11, 2005
by Brendan Coyne (bio)
Nov 10 - In a victory for nonprofit organizations, the Bush administration this week quietly withdrew a nearly two-year-old regulation requiring all charities participating in a government-backed federal employee donations program to screen employees and donation recipients for possible terrorist ties.
The rules do, however, still encourage groups to monitor themselves and includes a mandatory oath certifying that 'the organization… is in compliance with all statutes, executive orders and regulations restricting or prohibiting US citizens'"
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press Writer | November 9, 2005
BOSTON --Churches and other religious organizations would be required to disclose their finances like other nonprofit groups under a bill overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate on Wednesday.
Supporters of the bill, which has met opposition from the Catholic church and other religious denominations, say there's no reason to exempt religious groups."
Probe continues of 60 tax-exempt groups, IRS says - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper
By Guy Taylor
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 10, 2005
The Internal Revenue Service said yesterday that it continues to investigate more than 60 tax-exempt organizations -- including about 20 churches -- of accusations of engaging in improper political activities concerning the 2004 presidential election. "
IR-2005-133, Nov. 10, 2005
Washington — The Internal Revenue Service today issued guidance on steps large corporations and tax-exempt organizations can take to seek waivers from electronic filing requirements.
Notice 2005-88 establishes the bases under which taxpayers can request waivers from the electronic filing requirement:
Where the taxpayer can not meet electronic filing requirements due to technology constraints; or
Where compliance with the requirements would result in undue financial burden on the taxpayer."
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Filling out the details of a special Gulf Coast business zone proposed by
Senate Finance Committee Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, proposed tax breaks for equipment and building investments. Other items help businesses with the cost of demolition and cleanup as well as reforestation.
Grassley would also let individuals affected by hurricanes Rita and Wilma take advantage of some tax assistance offered to those in Hurricane Katrina's wake."
"Michael Nilsen, spokesman for the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Alexandria, says its members are reporting car donations down 20 to 40 percent this year. His hope is that people tend to adjust to changes over time, he says, but he's not optimistic.
'People donate a car because they want to get rid of it. But if they don't feel they're going to get enough value out of giving it, I'm not convinced we're going to see the donations go back up,' he says"
The problem is that a simpler federal tax system requires doing away with some of the deductions so many of us hold dear.
For that reason, it's interesting that President Bush's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform chose to take on that most cherished of tax deductions - the mortgage interest deduction."
By Christina Almeida
LOS ANGELES - The Internal Revenue Service has warned a prominent liberal church that it could lose its tax-exempt status because of an anti-war sermon given on the eve of the 2004 presidential election, according to church officials.
Rector Ed Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena told Sunday worshippers the IRS claims the church violated federal tax code barring tax-exempt organizations from intervening in political campaigns and elections."
Published: November 9th, 2005 03:00 AM
Here come the lawmakers. As I wrote in my last column, Congress will soon be presented with several pieces of legislation from the Senate Finance Committee. What they will address is as yet unknown. But others are not waiting. In the past few weeks we have seen several bills presented or proposed.
In late September, as part of the Katrina Emergency Relief Act, several changes regarding charitable giving were made. As reported by Independent Sector, the tax package includes a “temporary suspension of the income limits on new individual cash charitable donations in 2005.” Wonderfully, this applies to donations to all charitable organizations, not just those involved in Katrina relief work."
Monday, November 07, 2005
NPQ - Publications - Back Issues: e-Newsletter - November 2005 - Slippery Slope Leads to Rocky Road for Nonprofits
by Rick Cohen
Sometimes, the nonprofit sector has to “just say no”—and say it with courage and power, even with the possible consequence of rejecting long-sought government funding programs. As has occurred many times before, the nonprofit sector faces new challenges that threaten to strip charities of their advocacy and free speech rights at the price of access to government and even quasi-public dollars.
The 30-day battle that took place in October concerning housing legislation foreshadows the rocky road ahead for nonprofits. When the U.S. House of Representatives on October 26 overwhelmingly approved legislation to modify the oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s two behemoth governmentally sponsored enterprises (GSEs) in the home mortgage field, something was seriously amiss.
As part of the bill, H.R.1461, the House also approved the creation of an affordable housing trust fund to be capitalized by 3.5 percent of Fannie’s and Freddie’s profits. The problem? Congress acceded to the demand of the arch-conservative wing of the Republican Party, in this case in the form of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), to attach restrictions that applied to nonprofits and only nonprofits interested in applying to the fund for affordable housing project subsidies, restrictions unrelated to affordable housing, the functions of the housing trust fund, or anything other than ultra-conservative Republican animus."
Some Non-Profit Organizations have a public image problem, or are plain crooked. A law regulating their fund raising is needed now
By Ho Yi
Sunday, Nov 06, 2005,Page 17
Feng Yen is a spokesperson for the Taiwan NPO Self-Regulation Alliance.
PHOTO: FANG BIN-ZHAO, TAIPEI TIMES
When four Taipei City Government councilors wrongfully accused the Children Are Us Foundation (喜憨兒社會福利基金會) of exploiting its workers with developmental disabilities, at a press conference last month, the group saw its hard-won reputation crumble overnight.
Its offices were flooded with phone calls from concerned citizens demanding to know how their money was spent. Orders for Children Are Us Bakery items from corporations were canceled and donations were withdrawn."
By Joan Vennochi, Globe Columnist | November 6, 2005
FOR TOO MANY years, the Catholic Church has had its way with Massachusetts politicians.
Finally, some politicians are showing spine. They are standing up for churchgoers instead of the church, via a legislative proposal that calls for unprecedented financial transparency from churches and other religious organizations.
Six states require religious institutions to disclose some financial information in annual or biannual reports. The proposed Bay State bill is more comprehensive and would make the Commonwealth a national model when it comes to financial disclosure requirements. That is one reason the Catholic Church and other religious groups are fighting to kill it."
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) is calling on its Canadian members to write to the Department of Finance regarding proposed new provisions affecting charities. The proposal would require that for any contribution of $5,000 or more, charities make 'reasonable' inquiries regarding advantages received by the donor, tax shelters, intended use of the gift, and other matters. However, the term 'reasonable' is not defined in the proposal, and charities could face financial penalties if they fail to fulfill the requirement. In a submission to the Department of Finance, the AFP argued that charities should not be required to perform these duties, and that this responsibility should go to charity regulators. The AFP is asking Canadian members to write to the department requesting that it modify the proposal to place less of a burden on the charitable sector. For more information, visit: www.afpnet.org."
Friday, November 04, 2005
Legislation Formally Recognizing National Philanthropy Day Introduced In the Senate of Canada: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
Legislation Formally Recognizing National Philanthropy Day Introduced In the Senate of Canada: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance: "Legislation Formally Recognizing National Philanthropy Day Introduced In the Senate of Canada
Thursday November 3, 6:23 pm ET
OTTAWA, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Senator Jerahmiel S. Grafstein (Liberal, Metro Toronto), chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, introduced legislation that would create the first permanent government-recognized National Philanthropy Day (NPD) in the world."
You can read more about AFP and National Philanthropy Day on the AFP National Philanthropy Blog
and also on the AFP website
Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Jack Abramoff, the high-powered Republican lobbyist accused of bilking clients out of millions of dollars, may become the symbol that transforms the world of Washington influence-peddling.
Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has led a congressional probe of Abramoff, may introduce legislation to tighten regulations on lobbyists. McCain's old partners on campaign-finance overhaul, Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and Representative Martin Meehan of Massachusetts, both Democrats, are proposing that lawmakers detail payments for travel, and lobbyists disclose whom they contact on behalf of clients."
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Charitable reform and giving legislation is moving piecemeal in both the House and Senate, focusing on specific abuses of the sector and charitable giving incentives in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In an Oct. 24 speech delivered to Independent Sector's 25th Anniversary Conference, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) explained the importance of 'reform and oversight' of the sector to 'safeguard the donors and taxpayers.' He went on to say he would have liked a complete reform package to have been ready this fall, but '(Hurricane) Katrina has affected this and many other plans.' Nonetheless, Grassley made clear that he will not give up his quest to bring greater accountability to the nonprofit sector, emphasizing that he is taking the 'long view' on the issue."
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Carrie Coolidge, 11.01.05, 6:00 AM ET
NEW YORK - Today, President George W. Bush's bipartisan tax-reform panel is expected to submit to the secretary of the treasury a report containing revenue-neutral policy options for reforming the Federal Internal Revenue Code. The recommendations are expected to simplify federal tax laws, though it appears as if the estate tax repeal has been put off indefinitely. "