Council of Nonprofits in the News

Six Changes for Nonprofits as Results of the Affordable Care Act

April 3, 2014

A possible victory for the nonprofit sector occurred when nonprofit advocates, led significantly by the National Council of Nonprofits, reminded the White House that its proposed small employer health insurance credit—a tax credit against business earnings—didn’t work for nonprofits, which typically generate little or no profit-like surplus. The White House modified the incentive so that nonprofits could benefit, though at a lower level than for-profit business employers. Nonetheless, it appears that small nonprofit employers—and for-profits as well—were scarce participants in this incentive program, despite the fact that it was an incentive meant to be operational just about immediately after the ACA’s enactment.

Weaving the Threads of Public Policy and Philanthropy

March 18, 2014

What was the most compelling message we heard while in D.C.? Colleague Tim Delaney, President and CEO of National Council of Nonprofits, offered a powerful case for shifting foundations’ immediate attention to the state policy landscape. Why? The numbers tell the story: since 2011 the states passed 109,000 laws while Congress passed 360. Many of these laws target the charitable sector. NonProfit Quarterly recently published Tim’s call to action entitled Foundations Can Rewrite History by Focusing on the States, a must-read about new and widespread state efforts to tax, cost shift and constrain nonprofit independence.

Keeping an Eye on the Ball

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

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

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

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

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.

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