Fresh powder, taxes and surprises left behind...
I hope that you are all enjoying the winter wonderland that Oregon has become! As most of our state has been blanketed in snow and deep-freeze temperatures, the legislative session in both Salem and Washington D.C. have been heating up, especially where nonprofits are concerned. In some cases, the initiatives are like fresh powder on a beautiful morning waiting for those first tracks. In other cases, they are the “surprises” left behind at the end of winter, when the snow melts and you realize someone decided not to clean up after their pooch!
The Oregon Legislative session opened on January 22 and got right to work on some vitally important bills that impact the communities we serve. We are excited to see so many nonprofits are directly involved in advocating for our communities.
One initiative I want to draw your attention to is the work of the Renew and Raise coalition on HB3028 (proposed by Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer D-46) to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit in Oregon. The EITC encourages and rewards employment (you must work to earn the credit); recognizes that many jobs do not pay enough to meet basic necessities; boosts income for 900,000 Oregonians; and enjoys bipartisan support. Presidents Ford, Reagan, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama all expanded the EITC through the years. Let’s help shovel the path to get this one passed! You can find more information and can sign on to support this important initiative through the Renew and Raise Oregon HB 3028 Endorsement Form.
Surprises left in the snow…
Not everything happening in Salem is helping nonprofits to carve perfect tracks or catch air… An unfortunate “surprise” we stepped in, which was left by our Oregon legislature is the attempt to expand nonprofit property tax reporting through SB210 and the proposed requirement to make nonprofits subject to public meeting and public records requirements through HB3159. These bad bills would expand and create overreach by government into independent organizations and require certain institutions seeking property tax exemption to file information returns that would cause unnecessary and burdensome reporting requirements annually on basic property exemptions. Both of these bad ideas were left in the snow in 2017, so it is surprising to find them popping (or pooping?) up again. Nonprofits across Oregon joined NAO and a coalition of organizations through a grassroots campaign to defeat these bad ideas. NAO is joining with a group of coalitions and alliances to defend your organizations once again this session. Please be aware that you’ll receive more information soon about these “surprises in the snow”… Together we can keep charitable properties exempt and ensure that independent nonprofits are not treated like a branch of government.
Wait, they did what? They taxed our parking lot?! Instead of helping to shovel a path for community-based organizations to weather any storm, the federal government did you-know-what on our lawn… The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law in2017 and became effective in 2018 , included provisions that require nonprofits to pay a 21 percent tax on the cost of employee transportation benefits like transit and parking and to calculate unrelated income streams (UBIT) in a way that increases your tax burden. Our national colleague, Independent Sector released some great research about the impacts of this tax that will divert important resources from your mission to the federal government.
Our other wonderful colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits have been advocating on changes to this law as well. They have published an easy-to-understand guide to the IRS notice on the tax on transportation benefits.
NAO joins Independent Sector, the National Council of Nonprofits, and thousands of nonprofits across America in urging Congress to repeal these onerous provisions. With your help legislators will feel the urgency of our cause. Please urge Congress to choose #MissionNotTaxes.
Snow stakes for guidance
Like the orange stakes that help guide plows and vehicles from not getting caught on soft shoulders along our highways, we are aiming to help you better understand the impacts of last year’s tax changes on your fundraising efforts. NAO and the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Oregon and SW Washington would like to hear from you about the results of your fundraising efforts in 2018. As you know, there were many assumptions - positive and negative - made around the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and the impacts it would have on charitable giving for the nonprofit sector. We’re not sure if changing in giving habits of Oregonians will result in “fresh powder” or “surprises” for our sector.
We want to know how your nonprofit experienced charitable giving in 2018. We invite you to take this short survey, which will take less than 10 minutes to complete. The deadline to complete the survey is Wednesday, March 20 by 5 p.m. PST. We will share the results and hopefully you can use them as guide stakes this year to ensure your fundraising plan meets your goals.
NAO will continue to groom the slopes and shovel away the surprises this spring by keeping you posted on how these issues are progressing. We will be holding a Member Webinar in late March to update you all on the latest news. You have a right (and responsibility!) to advocate and lobby for your mission and program participants. For more information on how to engage in advocacy and lobbying activities click here.
Wishing you fresh powder and blue skies!
Executive Director, Nonprofit Association of Oregon