Huge Wins for Arts and Nonprofits in Proposed Year-End Deal!

December 16, 2015

IRA Rollover and arts funding win support in proposed budget/tax deals!

Early this morning, Congress released the details of an FY16 funding agreement, and an accompanying package of tax provisions that include support for three key policy requests advanced by orchestras and the broader arts and nonprofit community.

  • The IRA Charitable Rollover provision would be reinstated and made permanent. This would end the on-again, off-again cycle of expiration of this provision, and result in significant increases in charitable contributions to orchestras and the full array of nonprofit organizations.
  • Funding for the National Endowment for Arts would grow by $2 million - the first funding increase since cuts to the NEA budget in FY12.
  • Funding for the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education would increase by $2 million, providing new resources for competitive grants.

Orchestras have tirelessly advocated - in partnership with other arts organizations and nonprofits - for the support of these key provisions, asking Congress to #Act4Good to make charitable giving incentives permanent, and for restoration of federal funding for the arts and arts education.
 
We're not done just yet. The House and Senate still must take final action on these provisions, likely by the end of this week. The League will inform orchestras as soon as the status of IRA Rollover provision is officially confirmed. Thank you!

League submits comments to IRS opposing substantiation proposal

Comments filed by the League to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today reflect the serious concerns of orchestras and contributors, asserting that proposed alternative procedures for documenting donations would result in decreases in charitable giving and increased administrative costs. In October, the League informed orchestras that the IRS had published proposed regulations regarding the requirements for acknowledging charitable contributions. The regulations would establish a new voluntary process for nonprofits to file an alternative information return to the IRS by February 28 each year, and give a copy of the record of the donation by that date to each contributor of $250 or more to substantiate the contribution. The return submitted to the IRS would require the nonprofit to collect donors' Social Security numbers or tax identification numbers, making nonprofits more vulnerable to data theft and placing a chilling effect on donations. In addition to the League's comments, dozens of orchestras filed comments directly to the IRS, and the League joined the broader nonprofit community in opposing the proposal. We will keep you informed of further developments.

Visa petitioners: be aware of delays and extra security measures

Orchestras that engage foreign guest artists should be aware of substantial processing delays at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service centers. This might force some orchestra to consider paying for the Premium Processing Service (PPS) to ensure an artist's arrival in time for performances. Also, enhanced security measures make it advisable for petitioners to take extra steps to make certain artists are prepared for Customs and Border Protection processing on arrival in the U.S. The League provides visa and tax assistance relating to foreign guest artists throughout the year and continues to work in Washington to improve artist visa policies. Please consult our website, artistsfromabroad.org, for up-to-date guidance and be in touch with the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.

NEA announces Creativity Connects pilot grant opportunity

As part of its 50th anniversary initiative, this week the NEA announced Creativity Connects - a new pilot grant program that intends to show how the arts are central to the country's creativity ecosystem, investigate how support systems for the arts have changed, explore how the arts connect with other industries, and invest in innovative projects to spark new ideas for the arts field. Art Works: Creativity Connects grants will support partnerships between arts organizations and organizations from non-arts sectors that include business, education, environment, faith, finance, food, health, law, science, technology, and more. For eligible applicants, this new grant category may offer an "extra" opportunity of support from the NEA. An organization may submit an application to Art Works: Creativity Connects in addition to a grant application that has already been submitted for FY16, and is still eligible to submit an FY17 application to other NEA categories, including the other areas of Art Works and Challenge America. The application deadline is March 2, 2016, and funded projects would begin after January 1, 2017. The NEA provides a special FAQ page and offers registration for a guidelines workshop taking place in late January 2016. Be sure to note all NEA grant application deadlines, and stay tuned for updated tips for preparing your NEA grant application.