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Council of Nonprofits in the News

Keeping an Eye on the Ball

Posted: 
March 12, 2014

While in Washington, we had the opportunity to also hear from President of the National Council of Nonprofits Tim Delaney, the always passionate, highly articulate advocate for our country’s nonprofit sector. NCN is the national association working directly with our colleagues at theCenter for Non-Profits.  Tim did a masterful job of illustrating that the most seriously significant policy and legislative proposals affecting our field nationally are actually happening at the state level.  Then he shared this amazing bit of information: while Congress passed fewer than 80 laws in 2013 (including some naming post offices) state legislatures adopted almost 40,000.  According to Tim, informed policy practitioners see the arc of history being written now at that state level.

Tax Board Bans Recording Equipment In Hearing Involving Nonprofit

Posted: 
March 12, 2014

Denials of property tax exemptions for nonprofits seem to be a growing tactic of cash-strapped state and local government, said David Thompson, vice president of the National Council of Nonprofits. His organization has been tracking tax exemption denials as well as fees imposed by government on nonprofits.

"In recent years, local government has been turning to nonprofits as a new source of revenue," he said. "Nonprofits that were the jewels in the crown of a city just five years ago are now treated as scofflaws subject to the scorn of local politicians. The politicians blame the nonprofits rather than facing the budget challenges head on."

Thompson said that when government imposes taxes and fees on nonprofits, it robs organizations of things they've been commissioned to do. 

"What the local politicians see as 'found money' are in fact resources dedicated to the community that have been donated by individuals who feel the nonprofits — and not the government — are best qualified to solve local problems." he said.

143,764 Comments Submitted to IRS on Proposed 501(c)(4) Regulations

Posted: 
March 11, 2014

The votes are in! The IRS received 143,764 comments in response to the proposed regulations to guide 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations regarding political activities that might not be considered to be promoting social welfare.

If you think the IRS’s proposed regulations won, think again. From the left, right, center, and those of no politics at all, the proposed regulations were thoroughly bludgeoned in most of the comments, not just for what they would mean for 501(c)(4)s, but more importantly for their unintended impacts on 501(c)(3)s.

That was the powerful point raised by the National Council of Nonprofits in its comments:

“The proposed definition of ‘campaign-related political activity’ for 501(c)(4) organizations goes too far by including both partisan and nonpartisan election-related activities such as voter guides, candidate forums, and voter registration activities. These activities, when done on a nonpartisan basis, are at the core of the democracy initiatives of many charitable nonprofits. Having different standards for 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits and 501(c)(4) organizations will be too confusing, especially given that, as the Notice admits, the IRS has generally applied the same factors to the two types of organizations. By switching the rules on 501(c)(4) organizations, people in the field will be confused as to whether the new standard will apply to 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits as well. The proposed regulations would thus have a chilling effect on the important role that charitable nonprofits play by blurring the lines and confusing the public, while also discouraging the support of funders who seek to promote civic engagement through nonpartisan voter engagement.”

White House and Congressional Budget Plans Battle It Out Over Charitable Deduction

Posted: 
March 10, 2014

Often, such ideas circulate in statehouses around the nation rather than in Washington, says David Thompson, vice president of public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits.

“We’re trying not to hyperventilate over the Camp proposal,” he says. But he worries that ideas that could weaken incentives to give to charities will get “cut and pasted” into bills at the state level.

Cap On Deductions Proposed Again

Posted: 
March 4, 2014

The president is required to submit a budget proposal to Congress, which he has done, but it’s “not really going anywhere in terms of being adopted as presented,” said Tim Delaney, president and CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington, D.C. “This is an election year, Congress passed in December a unique budget for both setting limits for both the current fiscal year and 2015, so we really don’t see this moving forward,” Delaney said.

“The federal government, for better or worse at this moment, is incapable of really acting,” Delaney said, while states are very active, with some enacting caps on tax deductions have impacted giving. “It illustrates the importance of what’s happening at the state level,” he said.

OMB increases indirect cost reimbursements for nonprofits

Posted: 
February 1, 2014

It’s also hoped the acknowledgment by OMB will get the attention of corporations and foundations whose grants funding still operates under the 7-10 percent indirect costs principle. Conversations and policy changes about these issues are already happening in leading-edge philanthropic organizations.

To benefit fully from the new guidelines, nonprofits advocate the National Council of Nonprofits recommends nonprofits up their game in several areas.

First, they must be able to accurately identify and track their real overhead costs. Second, they’ll need to develop the skills for negotiating higher reimbursement rates with government organizations. Third, since no additional monies were added to available government contracts and grants funding with the new guidelines, nonprofits must “become more adept at advocacy on appropriation and tax matters.”

Short on Revenue, State and Local Governments Exert Pressure on Nonprofits

Posted: 
January 27, 2014

Maine Association of Nonprofits"A lot of us on the task force kept saying we are sympathetic to municipalities with financial struggles, but we don't feel the nonprofit sector is the appropriate source of revenue to relieve those pressures," Brenda Peluso, director of public policy and operations at the Maine Association of Nonprofits, told Tax Analysts. "It's really just taking money and putting it in another pocket."

...

North Dakota Association of Nonprofit OrganizationsIn North Dakota, a similar bill (HB 1380 (Doc 2014-125)) would allow municipalities to levy special assessments on tax-exempt nonprofits for safety and emergency services. It was defeated in the House, but the taxation committee has expressed interest in revising the bill for consideration during the 2015 legislative session, said Dana Schaar Jahner, executive director of the North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

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Donors ForumDelia Coleman, director of public policy and strategic communications at the Donors Forum, an Illinois association of nonprofits, said that nonprofits earn their tax-exempt status through the work they do in communities, helping those who fall through the cracks of the government's safety net.

Tinkering with that status would endanger their work, she said.

"With the decrease in funding that nonprofits have experienced over the past five years due to the recession, going after nonprofits for revenue really endangers the stability nonprofits provide for communities," Coleman said.

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"We feel we are being attacked from all directions," David Thompson, vice president of public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits, told Tax Analysts. "States are reevaluating their tax policies and looking at nonprofits. We see the frantic money grabs. They don't want to raise property taxes, so they ask who we can raise taxes on."

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