A new public opinion poll suggests that there is broad public support for tax incentives for charitable giving like the Charitable Act (H.R. 3435/S. 566). The poll found that:
Restoring and improving tax incentives for charitable giving remains a high priority for all nonprofits. The Alliance will work with our national partners to use this new polling data to help advocate for Congress to pass the Charitable Act and other similar legislation. Please feel free to share the poll results with your members, donors and local media to build a broader awareness and advocacy base for this important issue.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released new proposed regulations on the salary threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The proposed regulations would increase the salary threshold for overtime pay by nearly 55% over the current level to $55,068 per year.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that its Office of Advocacy is hosting virtual roundtables for small employers (including nonprofits) on September 26 and 27 (both are from 1-3 p.m.) to get input on the proposed DOL overtime rule. For more information, including details on how to RSVP for one of the roundtables, click the SBA’s announcement.
Nonprofits and others have until November 7 to submit public comments on the proposed rule. After DOL receives and reviews these comments, it could make some changes to the proposed regulations before issuing final regulations. The salary threshold in the final regulations be even higher than the level in the proposed regulations – possibly as high as $60,209 per year. The new salary threshold will likely take effect sometime in 2024.
The U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee recently published a “request for information” (RFI) about “political campaign intervention” by 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofits and 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. Federal tax law prohibits 501(c)(3) nonprofits from engaging in partisan election-related activities like endorsing or opposing candidates for public office or making financial contributions to political campaigns. However, longstanding guidance from the Internal Revenue Service makes clear that 501(c)(3) organizations can participate in nonpartisan voter registration, voter education, and get-out-the-vote work.
The Ways and Means Committee’s request for information seeks feedback on a series of questions, which focus on:
1. Whether there is a need to update definitions and guidance on nonprofit “political campaign intervention”;
2. Potential new reporting requirements for nonprofits on their election-related activities, potentially including new reporting on permissible nonpartisan voter engagement activities of 501(c)(3) nonprofits;
3. Identification of tax-exempt nonprofits whose voter engagement work or other programs and services have the effect of favoring one candidate or political party;
4. Information about the influence of foreign nationals on the election-related programs of 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) organizations; and
5. Specific examples of 501(c)(3) nonprofits that have misused donor funds in ways that benefit nonprofit executives or are inconsistent with donors’ intent.
While the committee’s request for information letter seeks information about activities of tax-exempt nonprofits that benefit any candidate or political party, the letter concludes with several examples of nonprofits’ election-related activities that the committee chairs suggest have benefitted Democratic candidates. The vast majority of 501(c)(3) nonprofits that engage in election-related activities do so in a nonpartisan way with intent of maximizing voter participation in their communities and without any expectation that their activities will benefit particular candidates or political parties.
Louisiana Alliance for Nonprofits is working with national partners on this issue. Comments are due to the Ways and Means Committee by September 4. The committee is accepting comments by email at waysandmeansRFI@mail.house.gov.
As of this week, eight Democrats and 11 Republicans have been elected to Louisiana’s 39-member Senate because they faced no opposition or candidate challenges.
That means a Senate supermajority won’t be a heavy lift for the Republican Party this cycle. The tally also means roughly half of the Legislature’s upper chamber has already been seated—seven and a half weeks before Election Day.
With the exception of Rep. Jean-Paul Coussan, who will move into Lafayette’s Senate District 23, all others elected so far are incumbents, including Sens. Regina Barrow, Gerald Boudreaux, Joe Bouie, Gary Carter, Heather Cloud, Royce Duplessis, Cleo Fields, Franklin Foil, Jimmy Harris, Bob Hensgens, Eddie Lambert, Jay Luneau, Patrick McMath, Jay Morris, Mike Reese, Jeremy Stine, Kirk Talbot and Glenn Womack.
For the latest on these races, and much more, visit www.SOS.La.Gov.
Source: Jeremy Alford, LA Politics
Thursday, August 10th is the last day of qualifying for election to state office this year. A comprehensive list of qualifying candidates can be found on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s website and is unofficial until qualifying closes at 4:30 p.m. Every statewide office as well as every seat in the Legislature and on BESE is up for grabs. The primary election will be held on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 and the Gubernatorial General Election on Nov. 18, 2023. The deadline to register to vote in person, by mail or at the OMV Office is September 13, 2023.
According to a recent survey conducted for Independent Sector, a membership organization of nonprofits and grant makers, charities are now far more reluctant to seek to influence lawmakers and other policymakers. The survey found that less than one-third of nonprofits have actively advocated for policy issues or lobbied on specific legislation over the past five years, down from nearly three-quarters of nonprofits in 2000.
Some of the survey's key takeaways include:
Less than one-third of nonprofits said they were well-versed in how to legally conduct advocacy campaigns and how much lobbying they were permitted to do. Twenty years ago more than half knew the rules, the survey found.
Recognizing the substantial impact of the charitable nonprofit sector on the economy, the National Conference of State Legislatures podcaster Ed Smith sat down with David L. Thompson of the National Council of Nonprofits to better understand how charitable nonprofits work with legislatures and the states. Thompson explained the roles charitable nonprofits play in communities and how state government and nonprofits work together to address any number of challenges, and specifically the value of community-based organizations when it comes to helping government implement programs. He also noted a challenge that charitable nonprofits have in common with state government — a shortage of workers — and ways government and the nonprofit sector can advance policies to try to address those shortages. Click here to listen to David Thompson’s interview with NCSL.
The IRS recently issued a new set of answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the Employee Retention Tax Credit. The document, Frequently asked questions about the Employee Retention Credit, provides answers to 20 of the most common questions about eligibility and application for the ERTC. Working to beat back scam artists in “ERTC mills,” the first Q&A is succinct: “Q1. Is every business eligible for the Employee Retention Credit? A1. No.” The longest answer responds to the question: “How do I know if I'm being scammed by an ERC promoter?”
The latest update to the ERTC FAQs comes at the end of an active week in combatting and highlighting the challenges raised by “ERTC mills,” the groups that have popped up (and appear on radio, TV, and pop-up ads) everywhere promising free money from the government. On Tuesday, IRS Commissioner Werfel reported on the tax agency’s success in closing the backlog of ERTC claims while ramping up enforcement efforts against scam artists.
Below are links to more news coverage of last week’s ERTC hearing:
ACTION ITEM: Do you have ideas for preventing fraud in the ERTC system? Please let the National Council of Nonprofits know so they can be included in follow-up statements to Congress.
Members of Congress adjourned for August recess on July 27 – a day earlier than expected – after it became apparent that attempts to bring the fiscal year (FY) 2024 Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration spending bill to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote would be futile. The U.S. Senate will now be in recess until September 5th, while the House will be in recess until September 12th.
The discrepancies between the House and Senate appropriations bills hint at what will likely be a tumultuous September on Capitol Hill. Congress has only until September 30th – the start of the new federal fiscal year – to enact all 12 appropriations bills or pass a continuing resolution (CR) in order to keep the federal government funded and avoid a shutdown. However, given the significant differences between the House and Senate FY24 spending bills, and given that far-right members of the House are indicating their unwillingness to vote for a clean CR that does not cut federal spending, members are raising alarms about a likely government shutdown on October 1st.
With members of Congress back in their home states and districts, August recess is the perfect time for advocates to set up in-district meetings with congressional members.
The official version of the Streamlining Federal Grants Act, S. 2286 was approved last week by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The senators’ bill would simplify and streamline the application process to increase access to federal grants for all communities. The legislation builds on a 2019 law led by Peters and Lankford that required federal grant programs to streamline data standards for applications and reporting.
The Streamlining Federal Grants Act directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide guidance to federal agencies on how they can simplify and streamline their grant application processes, including by making notice of funding opportunities easier to understand, updating software and systems that are used to apply for and manage federal grants, and implementing common data standards for grant reporting. The bill also requires agencies to appoint a senior official to develop and implement the plan to improve their grant application and reporting processes. By improving and updating the process to apply for federal grants, the senators’ legislation would reduce the burden on organizations applying for grants, and ensure the fair and efficient distribution of federal grants to communities with the greatest need. Learn more about the legislation and the benefits to charitable nonprofits.
“Strategic, competitive federal grants can open opportunities for cities, states and tribes, as well as local fire departments and others to improve infrastructure, interstate highways and waterways, broadband internet, and more.” - Senator Lankford
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