13 January 2012

ACR Newsletter 1.13.12

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012! We anticipate a busy year ahead and look forward to keeping you up to date on the issues that matter to our community.

The latest edition of the ACR newsletter is available below.

Washington Roundup

The House will return to session from the holiday break on Tuesday, January 17, following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The Senate will reconvene on Monday, January 23rd in time for the President’s State of the Union address planned for the evening of Tuesday, January 24th.

Here is an update from Capitol Hill:

  • Current State of Play
    As you may recall, on December 23rd, the President signed a bill with a 2-month extension of a payroll tax holiday, additional unemployment benefits and the prevention of a cut in fees paid to Medicare providers (known as the Doc Fix). These provisions, which are set to again expire on February 29, 2012, are paid for through an increase in the fees charged by government-sponsored enterprises such as Fannie Mae to guarantee mortgage loans. To garner Republican support for this short-term extension, Democrats agreed to a provision that convenes a House –Senate Conference Committee to produce a follow-on deal that would extend the payroll tax cut through the end of 2012. (The bill also requires President Obama to approve or deny, within 60 days, a permit to begin construction of the Canada-Texas Keystone XL pipeline.) .

    Attention in Washington has now turned to this Conference Committee and, reportedly, staffers for the committee members have started meeting even though Congress remains in recess. While negotiations promise to be heated and a compromise for how to pay for a full-year extension will be difficult to reach, staffers remain cautiously optimistic. A spokesperson for Conference Committee conferee and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said “the work is ongoing and will continue so that members have the materials and information they need for productive discussions.”

    As for the “tax extenders” that expired at the end of 2011 (and that includes several items which incentivize private giving like the IRA Charitable Rollover), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has called for swift action on renewing these extenders. However the same fight for revenue offsets that is threatening the payroll tax cut extension, will carry over to tax extenders. While we do not expect an extenders package to be passed before the 2012 elections, we believe that after the election during what’s called a “lame-duck session,” Congress will likely pass an extension retroactive to the beginning of 2012 for most, if not all, of the provisions.

  • What’s Next
    On January 24th, the President will deliver his annual State of the Union address, and we expect taxes and tax reform to be a significant component of that speech. This is the first opportunity of 2012 for the President to set the tone for tax reform discussions the remainder of the year. Already we have learned that he will announce a plan to provide tax incentives to companies that keep and/or create jobs within the United States. Such a plan will build on previous discussions of corporate tax reform within Congress, and will undoubtedly prompt hearings in both the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees. It is unclear whether any provisions affecting the charitable sector will be mentioned, but we will keep you up to date as more details of the speech are released in the coming weeks.

    In early February, following his address the President will release his FY2013 budget. As in years past, we believe he will include a limitation to the charitable deduction as part of a broader cap on all itemized deductions for upper-income taxpayers. In anticipation, we are working on several tactics and tools to highlight opposition to this proposal, both within ACR as well as with our colleagues in the private giving/non-profit coalition. One important event is an upcoming ACR Lobby Day to be held in conjunction with ACR’s Summit for Leaders on March 21st to educate Members and their staff about what’s at stake for the community if policies are implemented which drive less private giving.

Consider This…

2012 Congressional Forecast
Well the curtain is up on 2012. What should we expect from Washington this year? The short answer is not much until the bitter end.

The longer answer: If you thought last year was a nightmare on Capitol Hill, this year is likely to be a whole lot worse. With control of the Presidency, Senate and House all up in the air, it is going to be all politics, all the time.

So what can we expect in the short term? …(keep reading)

Upcoming Event

The Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) invites you to the nation’s capital
for our third annual ACR Summit for Leaders.

*** Registration will open on Tuesday, January 17 ***

Summit for Leaders
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Mayflower Renaissance Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

The ACR Summit for Leaders offers a half-day of programming to provide a snapshot of the current political issues impacting philanthropy and nonprofits, and guidance on how to effectively advance your cause amid the ever-present din in Washington. Panels including Senior Congressional Staff, policy experts and seasoned practitioners offer an insider’s look at the landscape of Capitol Hill, and how the agendas of Congress, the Administration and the states might impact the philanthropic sector. The Summit is an excellent opportunity for foundation executives, nonprofit leaders, and others interested in the intersection of public policy and philanthropy.

Other Events
ACR Fly In/Speak Out (Lobby Day)
Wednesday Afternoon

Join colleagues in meetings with senior Congressional staff to discuss the importance of maintaining incentives for charitable giving such as the charitable deduction. Location: Capitol Hill.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

You are cordially invited to a reception to acknowledge the work of a key Member of Congress who is championing issues important to private philanthropy. Location: The Monocle Restaurant

Why Attend the Summit?
In 2011 the charitable sector was a target. With growing budget deficits and increasing pressure to pay fully for government programs, the President and some in Congress began to explore the possibility of sacrificing so-called “sacred cows,” most notably the charitable deduction, as a means to help close the gap. Fortunately, ACR and our colleagues in the sector engaged in a successful campaign to educate Members of Congress about the critical role private philanthropy plays in strengthening our communities.

2012 will be no less challenging. Deficits continue to grow and the hunt for money will become even more intense. And then there’s the upcoming election. All Presidential candidates have proposed sweeping tax reform plans. In this context, changes to our tax code will be the subject of much debate and discussion. We should expect some lawmakers to call for tax policy changes that could drive less private giving.

A complete list of session and speakers will be announced soon.

Online registration will open January 17, 2012. Look for an email on Tuesday with a link to register for the Summit and other related events.
Foundations on the Hill
The ACR Summit for Leaders is held in conjunction with Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), hosted by the Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. We encourage Summit attendees who are eligible to participate in FOTH to visit www.foundationsonthehill.org for more information. Attendees must register separately for Foundations on the Hill.

For more information contact Patrice Lee at The Philanthropy Roundtable (plee@philanthropyroundtable.org or 202.822.8333).

Making Headlines

Here are recent headlines you may find interesting:

Charitable Deduction
Opinion: Voices supporting and opposing limiting or eliminating the charitable deduction continue to emerge from across the country.

Hawaii: The president of the Hawaii Tax Foundation discusses unintended consequences of changing tax policies for high-income earners. One such consequence is that these changes lead to a decrease in charitable donations which in turn harms efforts to help the poor. As we have reported, Hawaii recently capped all deductions including those for charitable gifts.

Kansas: Governor Sam Brownback has proposed a tax reform plan that would end itemized deductions and exemptions for Kansas taxpayers, including those for charitable contributions. Also see: Governor: Kansas, a State in Transition

Boston: Mayor Thomas Menino has introduced changes to the city’s PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) program, with a plan requiring any non-profit with more than $15 million in property to pay 25% of what they would owe in commercial taxes as for-profit businesses.

New Orleans: Mayor Mitch Landrieu has abandoned efforts to impose property taxes on some of the city’s nonprofit organizations. His original plan was to get legislation passed that would narrow the scope of property tax exemptions and grant local governments more power to regulate the exemptions

New York City: The City is cracking down on nonprofits, revoking property tax exemptions for those which do not make filing deadlines. The City anticipates it could recoup up to $183 million.

Comings & Goings (Nonprofit Leadership)
Kauffman Foundation: Carl Schramm has stepped down as head of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation after a decade of leadership to return to scholarship and business. Also see: Carl Schramm Decides to Step Down as Kauffman Foundation CEO

Urban Institute: Sarah Rosen Wartell, the co-founder and executive vice president at Center for American Progress, has been named the new president of the Urban Institute.

This Caught Our Eye…
2012 Outlook: The Chronicle of Philanthropy highlights the top five challenges to the philanthropic sector and the top ten nonprofits to watch in 2012. Also see: The Year of Controversial Giving (Huffington Post)

America’s Generosity: Americans were ranked the most generous people of all nations.

Philanthropy and Public Policy: A Washington Post op-ed raises concerns about the influence large donors and foundations wield in setting policy priorities.

Donor Advised Funds: According to a new study, the assets of donor advised funds grew by 12 % between 2009 and 2010.

Nonprofits Electioneering: More reporting on the nonprofits pursuing political goals.

Silicon Valley Philanthropy: The New York Times profiles philanthropist and author Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen who is influencing her peers and tech entrepreneurs to give while living.

Do-gooders Beware: A startup and small business expert warns about the bureaucracy and difficulties involved in forming a nonprofit organization.

Philanthropy Buzzwords: Philanthropic advisor Lucy Bernholz counts down the top ten keywords and concepts that capture the essence of 2011 for nonprofits.

Looking for ARCHIVES of this newsletter? Click here.