Thursday, December 29, 2005

Uncle Sam wants you to make gift to rebuild Iraq

Uncle Sam wants you to make gift to rebuild Iraq: "Uncle Sam wants you to make gift to rebuild Iraq

Thursday, December 29, 2005
By Yochi J. Dreazen, The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- Americans, particularly at this time of year, open their wallets to all manner of good causes. But donating to Uncle Sam's foreign-aid efforts isn't very high on the list.

In September, officials at the U.S. Agency for International Development unveiled what they considered to be an inspired idea: augment the billions of taxpayer dollars already allocated for foreign aid by asking individual Americans -- especially those with strong ties to other countries -- to give money for development projects."

San Mateo Daily Journal-State will audit local hospitals

San Mateo Daily Journal: "State will audit local hospitals
By Heather Murtagh
Fifteen nonprofit hospitals are being investigated by state officials to ensure profits aren’t going to bulk up the salaries of CEOs or other for-profit ventures.

Three local organizations, Kaiser Permanente, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Mills-Peninsula Health Services are among those being scrutinized by the California Board of Equalization because of high profit margins. If the investigation shows profits are misused, the organization would lose its nonprofit tax exemption which saves the companies millions of dollars.

The probe began in December 2004 when the board noticed a high compensation earned by some of the hospital CEOs, said Betty Yee, member of the Board of Equalization.

Yee, who represents 21 counties including San Mateo, said the inquires began before she joined the board. The board periodically looks into all nonprofit organizations but normally in alphabetical order which means it wouldn’t be looking at the records for hospitals all at once. Members wanted to see if the CEO compensation was a trend so it requested to look into all hospitals across the board during 2005. "

Nashville City Paper

Nashville City Paper: "Proposed law could harm charitable giving
By Judith R. Tackett,
December 29, 2005

Charitable giving by seniors could decrease significantly if the federal budget reconciliation bill passes in Congress in its current form.

More than 80 percent of Tennessee seniors who are members of the AARP donated to charities in 2003.

With a close 51-50 vote decided by Vice President Dick Cheney, the U.S. Senate last week approved the conference agreement on the budget reconciliation bill, which includes provisions that could discourage seniors from donating to charitable organizations.

Under current law, Medicaid includes a provision that penalizes seniors who have transferred assets for less than fair market value within three years of applying for long-term care coverage. That language includes charitable donations seniors made within three years from applying for Medicaid.

The goal is to deter seniors from transferring assets to become eligible for Medicaid."

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Revised Russian Bill Governing NGOs Fails to Mollify Critics

Revised Russian Bill Governing NGOs Fails to Mollify Critics: "Revised Russian Bill Governing NGOs Fails to Mollify Critics

By Peter Finn
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 22, 2005; Page A21

MOSCOW, Dec. 21 -- The Russian parliament on Wednesday passed a revised version of a controversial bill governing grass-roots activity in the country. Nongovernmental organizations welcomed a few of the amendments but reiterated their concern that the measure will authorize strict government supervision and allow the shutting down of some groups." - Serving Clark County, Washington - Serving Clark County, Washington: "hell Solar Industries took advantage of state funding to team with Clark College and cross-train several categories of its employees.

Georgia-Pacific created a similar training program with Longview Community College to increase the skills of its younger employees in preparation of a coming wave of retirements.

State employment leaders say expanding that kind of training is in jeopardy because of a two-word phrase contained in federal legislation aimed at reforming the Workforce Investment Act.

The 'charitable choice' language inserted into the House version of the reform bill would allow faith-based organizations to use federal funding to hire only people of their faith.

Critics call that hiring discrimination.

The Senate passed its own version of the reform bill in May, but the issue is now stalled and isn't likely to get another chance at reaching a floor vote until 2007."

delawareonline ¦ The News Journal ¦ New government rules worry charities

delawareonline ¦ The News Journal ¦ New government rules worry charities: "New government rules worry charities


The Rev. Thomas Laymon describes the funding base of the Sunday Breakfast Mission as churches, corporations and a little bit from Christian foundations.

'When the tsunami hit, there was a very definite drop in donations. We saw it, we felt it at the end of December. It was very evident,' said the mission's president and chief executive officer of last year. 'There was also an impact of the hurricanes, although we're not sure how significant it will be for us until after January.'

But most worrisome of late are new government rules on charitable giving. 'Government regulations can impact for the long run,' Laymon said."

Lobbyists Can Boast of Their Share of Good Deeds

Lobbyists Can Boast of Their Share of Good Deeds: "Lobbyists Can Boast of Their Share of Good Deeds

By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum

Monday, December 26, 2005; Page D01

Joel Wood is best known as a co-founder of Red Hot & Blue, the Washington area's most successful barbecue franchise. He's also the top lobbyist for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, an obscure but powerful trade group.

But his heart and a lot of his time are devoted to pleading on Capitol Hill for funds to eradicate Duchenne's syndrome, a deadly form of muscular dystrophy that his 8-year-old son James was diagnosed with five years ago." - BUSINESS-Year-end is kind to state's charities - BUSINESS: "Year-end is kind to state's charities
More than half of gifts to nonprofits, foundations and religious groups are in November and December, a Colo. trade group says.
By Will Shanley
Denver Post Staff Writer

Colorado philanthropists big and small are gearing up for the annual year-end push to support the state's 17,000 charitable groups.

The reason?

Uncle Sam."

IRS Reminds Taxpayers About Requirement of Written Acknowledgment for Donated Cars

IRS Reminds Taxpayers About Requirement of Written Acknowledgment for Donated Cars: "IRS Reminds Taxpayers About Requirement of Written Acknowledgment for Donated Cars

IR-2005-149, Dec. 22, 2005

WASHINGTON — Internal Revenue Service officials today reminded taxpayers that they must obtain a charity’s written acknowledgment of their vehicle donation before they claim a deduction for the donation. For deductions of more than $500, the taxpayer is required to attach the acknowledgment to the taxpayer’s return for the year of the donation.

Effective for vehicles donated to charity on or after January 1, 2005, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 provides that, generally, a taxpayer’s deduction is limited to the gross proceeds from the sale of the vehicle by the charity. The charity must provide a written acknowledgment within 30 days after the vehicle is sold that notifies the taxpayer of the amount of the gross sales proceeds. "

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Is Russia tightening the noose on NGOs? - Europe -

Is Russia tightening the noose on NGOs? - Europe - "Is Russia tightening the noose on NGOs?
Controversial bill may restrict foreign groups and funding from flowing in
By Yonatan Pomrenze
NBC News
Updated: 7:38 a.m. ET Dec. 21, 2005

MOSCOW — Most Russians look forward to the New Year’s holiday with anticipation. Fireworks, exchanging of gifts, strolling through snowy streets until dawn, and the kickoff of the nine-day winter vacation season are reason enough to do so."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005"Non-Profits Unscathed By Corporate-Governance Crackdown "Non-Profits Unscathed By Corporate-Governance Crackdown
Business Journal - Central New York, The

By Dickinson, Casey J

SYRACUSE - Congress hasn't been quick to pass new laws regulating non-profit organizations, says Andrew C. Schulz, deputy general counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based Council on Foundations. Corporate scandals such as Enron and the subsequent federal reaction, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, have sparked Congress to consider similar legislation aimed at protecting the nation's non- profit entities, but it hasn't taken any action yet.

Schulz's keynote speech exploring legislative action affecting nonprofits launched the third annual 'Best Practices for Nonprofits' seminar Nov. 1 at the Holiday Inn, Syracuse/Liverpool. Schulz monitors legislative trends for the Council on Foundations and its 2,000 members - grant-making foundations and giving programs around the world.

Congress hasn't passed any major nonprofit legislation since the 1960s. The 1969 tax law, passed in response to political involvement by the Ford Foundation, was the last major change in the tax code. "

The Jakarta Post - Tax incentives for non-profit organizations

The Jakarta Post - Tax incentives for non-profit organizations: "Tax incentives for non-profit organizations

Pahala Nainggolan, Jakarta

In the draft of new tax bill, the government introduced a long-awaited policy that allows taxpayers to record their donations as deductible expenses. Donations given for national catastrophes and for community and social development will be accounted for as expenses from a tax point of view. Thus the more donations that one gives will be that much less tax paid. Currently, donations for social activities are treated as non-tax deductible expenses. It means that for each donation, on top of it, 30 percent must be added for government as a tax payment. This discourages people's charity and social solidarity."

Monday, December 19, 2005

U.S. Congress Criticizes NGO Bill

U.S. Congress Criticizes NGO Bill: "U.S. Congress Criticizes NGO Bill
By Anatoly Medetsky
Staff Writer

The U.S. House of Representatives has called for the State Duma bill that would increase government control over nongovernmental organizations to be withdrawn or toned down significantly.

U.S. representatives passed a nonbinding resolution 405-15 late Thursday, prompting some of the bill's sponsors in the Duma to bristle and Russian NGOs to welcome the support."

A charity led by Frist funded close aides - The Boston Globe

A charity led by Frist funded close aides - The Boston Globe: "A charity led by Frist funded close aides
Questions raised on consulting fees

By Jonathan M. Katz and John Solomon, Associated Press | December 18, 2005

WASHINGTON -- An AIDS charity linked to the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, paid almost a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns. The returns for World of Hope Inc. show the charity raised the lion's share of its $4.4 million from only 18 sources. They gave $97,950 to $267,735 each to help fund Frist's efforts to fight AIDS.

The tax forms, filed nine months after they were first due, do not identify the 18 major donors by name."

Donor Intent Key to Healthy Charitable Giving Climate, New Poll Finds :: PNNOnline ::

Donor Intent Key to Healthy Charitable Giving Climate, New Poll Finds :: PNNOnline ::: "Donor Intent Key to Healthy Charitable Giving Climate, New Poll Finds
Posted by: jenberk on Monday, December 19, 2005
Topic General Fundraising

With many Americans planning year-end contributions to their favorite charities, a new public opinion survey sends a strong message to officials of nonprofit organizations about the proper use of donations: use contributions for their intended purpose or be prepared to suffer the consequences.

The revealing new survey by Zogby International, commissioned by the plaintiffs in what may be the largest ‘donor intent’ lawsuit in U.S. history (Robertson v. Princeton University), comes at a time of heightened concern about misuse of charitable donations by nonprofit organizations. The results were hailed by William Robertson, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, as “a sharp rebuke to nonprofit executives who care more about their donors’ contributions than their donors’ intent.”


Friday, December 16, 2005

ITAR-TASS-Limiting NGO activity incompatible with democracy- US Congress

ITAR-TASS: "Limiting NGO activity incompatible with democracy- US Congress

16.12.2005, 08.26

WASHINGTON, December 16 (Itar-Tass) - Members of the US Congress have turned to the Russian government with a request to withdraw or change the draft law on the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGO) currently considered by the State Duma lower house of Russia's parliament. The congressmen adopted a corresponding resolution on Thursday. It was initiated by congressmen Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos. The resolution was backed by 405 American lawmakers and only 15 were against."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tax breaks could be headed our way: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Tax breaks could be headed our way: South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "tax breaks could be headed our way

Federal benefits first planned for Katrina victims

By Harriet Johnson Brackey
Business Writer
Posted December 15 2005
Max out the credit cards or break into your retirement savings? Floridians struggling to find cash to make hurricane repairs might want to keep an eye on Capitol Hill.

Moving through the halls of Congress is a generous package of hurricane tax relief measures designed for Hurricane Katrina's victims that may be extended to those who suffered from hurricanes Wilma and Rita.

These tax breaks would greatly ease the burden of snatching cash from savings."

Monday, December 12, 2005

Do-not-call list hung up (CANADA)

Do-not-call list hung up: "Do-not-call list hung up
Not expected for nearly two years

Carly Weeks, CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen
Published: Sunday, December 11, 2005

OTTAWA - Sick of picking up the phone to hear a canned voice urging you to expand your credit card collection? Well, don't expect relief from annoying calls anytime soon, despite a new law designed to give Canadians the chance to stop telemarketers.

Last-minute changes to the Telecommunications Act, passed just before the federal election was called, will let Canadians add their phone numbers to a national do-not-call list. Telemarketers are prohibited from calling numbers on the list, and face a hefty fine"

Nonprofits feel reform pressure - Top Stories -

Nonprofits feel reform pressure - Top Stories - "Nonprofits feel reform pressure

By Lynn Graebner
Updated: 7:00 p.m. ET Dec. 11, 2005

This year, the nation's nonprofit sector braced for legislation that was to institute some of the biggest changes to the way nonprofits are governed in 20 years.

But Hurricane Katrina dampened those expectations as the nation and its lawmakers gained new appreciation for the work that charities do."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Council of Europe Urges Russia to Soften NGO Bill

Council of Europe Urges Russia to Soften NGO Bill: "Council of Europe Urges Russia to Soften NGO Bill

PARIS -- The Council of Europe, the continent's leading rights watchdog, urged Russia on Tuesday to soften a bill restricting foreign funding of pro-democracy bodies and charities, saying it could breach the European Convention on Human Rights."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

House Speaker Backs No-Gifts Ethics Policy (FLORIDA)

House Speaker Backs No-Gifts Ethics Policy: "House Speaker Backs No-Gifts Ethics Policy
Skip directly to the full story.


Published: Dec 6, 2005

That's the essence of legislation that would prohibit politicians from accepting gifts of any value from lobbyists. Fancy dinners would be out, and so would cups of coffee.

'I think you just don't accept gifts,' said House Speaker Allan Bense, who decided to support the approach after hearing numerous proposals that bogged down in details.

The new House legislation was introduced at the start of a special session that was supposed to focus only on Medicaid and slot machines. As leaders added items to the calendar, it was the zero-gift proposal that had people talking. It also would require lobbyists to report their incomes."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Road rage? IRS cuts mileage deduction - Dec. 5, 2005

Road rage? IRS cuts mileage deduction - Dec. 5, 2005: "Road rage? IRS cuts miles writeoff
Tax agency trims the increased mileage deduction that was granted after Katrina raised gas prices.

NEW YORK ( - The Internal Revenue Service is scaling back its mileage deduction, which had received an unusual late-year bump when gasoline prices soared following Hurricane Katrina.

The tax agency will allow taxpayers to deduct 44.5 cents per mile for business miles driven. That's down eight percent from the rate for the last four months of this year, but up about 10 percent from the rate in effect before Katrina.

In addition, drivers will be able to deduct 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes and 14 cents per mile driven in service of most charitable organizations. The new rates take effect Jan. 1."

Estate paid a whopper tax: $112 million

Estate paid a whopper tax: $112 million: "A philanthropist's estate, the subject of a complex dispute, made the largest estate tax payment state officials can recall.
Patricia Lopez and Margaret Zack, Star Tribune

When state revenue officials started counting up estate tax payments this year, they got a big surprise: One Minnesota estate had paid a whopping $112 million in estate tax."

Other Voices: Kaine must change his tune on estate-tax repeal

Other Voices: Kaine must change his tune on estate-tax repeal: "Other Voices: Kaine must change his tune on estate-tax repeal
By Kelly Davis
December 3, 2005
On Nov. 8, Virginia voters elected a new governor. They chose among three candidates who presented sharply contrasting views on many issues. Yet on one important issue, Virginia voters had no real choice. Sadly, all three candidates favored eliminating the state's estate tax - a costly policy choice that would benefit only the wealthiest Virginians."

Guidance Explains How Katrina Victims Can Access Their Retirement Savings

Guidance Explains How Katrina Victims Can Access Their Retirement Savings: "Guidance Explains How Katrina Victims Can Access Their Retirement Savings

IR-2005-137, Nov. 30, 2005

WASHINGTON — Treasury and the IRS issued Notice 2005-92 today, which provides guidance relating to the application of two provisions of the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005 (KETRA) for Hurricane Katrina victims and employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs.

Under one provision of KETRA, individuals who live in one of the four states affected by Hurricane Katrina and who suffered an economic loss as a result of that hurricane receive favorable tax treatment with respect to distributions from eligible retirement plans that are qualified Hurricane Katrina distributions, called 'Katrina distributions.'"

Friday, December 02, 2005

Robert Powell: The top 5 IRA rulings of 2005 - General News - Personal Finance

Robert Powell: The top 5 IRA rulings of 2005 - General News - Personal Finance: "Top five IRA rulings of 2005
By Robert Powell, MarketWatch
Last Update: 6:42 PM ET Dec. 1, 2005
Disable MW live quotes | E-mail it | Print | Discuss | Alert | Reprint | $Library |

BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- To the millions of Americans who own IRAs, 2005 may seem like most other years. But to accountants, estate attorneys and others who live, breath, eat and sleep IRAs, 2005 will go down as yet another banner year filled with new laws, court rulings, IRS Revenue Rulings and IRS Private Letter Rulings that dramatically affect America's most beloved retirement account.
Global warming puts trees in trading spotlight
FBR fund manager sticks to fundamentals
December heralds big deals for car buyers
The top 5 IRA rulings of 2005
Don't get caught short on home insurance
One way to beat real estate capital-gains taxes
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What are the biggest changes affecting the 45.5 million American households and their $3.5 trillion-plus in IRA money? Here, according to Ed Slott's just-published IRA Advisor and his stable of experts, are the top rulings of the year."

The Independent Online - News-"Who’s afraid of the death tax?

The Independent Online - News: "Who’s afraid of the death tax?

Nobody likes to talk about death, especially those whose livelihoods revolve around the life cycles of cattle and crops. But as Benjamin Franklin succinctly put it: “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

“Death” and “taxes” are dirty words to a lot of people, and when the conversation turns to the so-called “death tax,” hackles get raised in a hurry. Critics of the federal estate tax say it’s immoral and un-American and hurts family farms and small businesses.

But how many Montana families have actually had to sell the farm in order to pay “death taxes?”

None, says Dr. Marsha Goetting, professor and family-economics specialist at Montana State University’s Depart-ment of Agriculture and Economics."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Proposed ethics laws divide nonprofit execs -

Proposed ethics laws divide nonprofit execs - "Proposed ethics laws divide nonprofit execs

Knight Ridder News

SAN DIEGO - 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.

Last week, about 100 charity executives and board members attended a University of San Diego symposium examining how stricter oversight might affect the work they do."