IRA, NEA, and Postage Updates (11/20/07)
Your Elected Officials Head Home
Washington, D.C. - Decisions on important issues for orchestras and the broader nonprofit sector are still up in the air as Congress begins the Thanksgiving break. Your elected officials will be home for the next two weeks and plan to return to Washington on December 4. This recess is the perfect opportunity to meet with your members of Congress back home to discuss the policy issues that will help your orchestra serve its community.
IRA Extension Still Uncertain
Set to expire on December 31st, the IRA Charitable Rollover provision is caught in the middle of a political tug of war as the House and Senate debate a broad tax package. The provision, which allows individuals aged 70 ½ and older to make charitable gifts from their IRAs tax-free up to a total of $100,000 per year, was enacted in August 2006 and has already proved to spur new charitable gifts to orchestras and other nonprofit organizations. A one-year extension of the IRA rollover has broad congressional support and is included in a larger package of popular tax relief extenders that would also include a fix to the controversial Alternative Minimum Tax. As the clock ticks away, the House and Senate are in a showdown over how to pay for the overall tax package.
NEA and Education Funding Stalled
Potential historic increases in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Arts Education are in jeopardy as Congress and the White House face off over total spending for the current fiscal year. On November 13, the President vetoed the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill, which included unprecedented support for arts education funding and would have fully funded long-awaited research on the status of arts education in our nation's schools. Only one of the 12 federal FY08 spending measures - the Defense bill - has been signed into law. Congress may craft a catch-all spending bill in December, but holding on to the gains in arts funding will be tough as Washington policymakers whittle away at all proposed increases in domestic spending.
Congress Eyes Charities and the Public Good
Congressional hearings are calling into question the public benefits provided by the diverse range of organizations that make up the nation's charitable sector. The House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee held a September hearing examining how nonprofits serve the needs of diverse communities. Meanwhile, Senate discussions have probed how higher education and hospitals provide community benefits and devote resources to people in need. Conversations at the national level are being echoed as some states and localities under financial strain reconsider tax benefits for nonprofits. On October 9, the League collaborated with the America Arts Alliance to submit testimony to the House Ways and Means committee, advocating for the unique benefits provided by nonprofit performing arts organizations sustaining vibrant communities across the country.
Good News on Future Postal Rates
On November 15, the Postal Service Governors announced that the next adjusted postal rates will be done according to a new ratemaking system that was issued by the Postal Regulatory Commission last month. This system caps future increases at the rate of inflation. Although the Governors had the option to file another rate case under regulations used since 1971, they voted to proceed under the new pricing regulations.
Review the New Ratemaking Rules
The League is a member of the Performing Arts Alliance, a coalition of national performing arts service organizations dedicated to advocating for national policies that recognize, enhance, and foster the contributions the performing arts make to America.