Obama Immigration Actions Alter Spending, Tax Agendas in Congress

Obama Immigration Actions Alter Spending, Tax Agendas in Congress

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President Obama’s executive actions to end the threat of deportation for millions of individuals in the country illegally has added a major complication to plans by Congress to fund the government, pass extensions of expired tax provisions, and adjourn for the year. A short-term “continuing resolution” that funds federal agencies expires December 11 and lawmakers have been working on enacting comprehensive appropriations legislation, known as an “omnibus” bill, to provide resources through September 30, 2015, the end of the fiscal year. House Republicans reportedly are seeking to change that plan by approving year-long spending for all federal departments exceptthose that would administer the President’s immigration changes; those would be funded only on a temporary basis if the new strategy were to be implemented. 

On the tax front, a deal to extend expired tax provisions appeared to have been reached last week, only to be sent back to the bargaining table due to a presidential veto threat and opposition by congressional Democrats. It was widely reported early last week that an end-of-year tax bill had been crafted that would make permanent ten expired tax provisions, including key charitable giving incentives – the IRA rollover, the food inventory provision, and the land conservation incentive – and extend through 2015 almost all of the rest of the collection of expired tax breaks known collectively as the “extenders package.” The deal did not include Democratic priorities of making permanent several tax incentives for the working poor, such as the earned income tax credit, reportedly due to concern that the tax benefits could be claimed by persons who entered the country illegally, but whose immigration status was affected by the President’s actions. The White House has issued a veto threat and the path to passage of a tax bill is unclear.

Advocacy Opportunity: The uncertainty over whether a tax bill can be enacted and, if so, what provisions will be included, make it most urgent for charitable nonprofits to convey their support for enactment of charitable incentives in the remaining days of the session. More than 1000 nonprofits signed onto a letter to Senators and Representatives circulated by Independent Sector calling for passage of the components of the America Gives More Act. See also the November 19 letter from national nonprofits to congressional leaders that makes the case for each of the charitable provisions. Go to the National Council of Nonprofits website for resources on the issue and information for contacting Members of Congress while there is still time to make a difference.

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