2020 Arts Policy Updates and Priorities

February 12, 2020

Federal budget repeats recent history, proposing elimination of NEA 

With bipartisan support from Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) received an increase for fiscal year 2020 for a total funding level of $162.25 million, while the Assistance for Arts Education (AAE) program fund at the U.S. Department of Education actually received a $1 million increase for a total funding level of $30 million. However, the Trump Administration has once again proposed elimination of several sources of federal support for the arts, including the NEA, the AAE fund, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and others. The following League resources will help your orchestra prepare to speak up on issues that matter the most to your community:

Reminder! IRA Rollover is a key giving incentive

Many orchestras have received significant new contributions since the IRA Charitable Rollover provision was made permanent in 2015, allowing individuals age 70-1/2 and older to make direct, tax-free transfers of up to $100,000 per year (up to $200,000 for married couples) from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) to qualified charities. Many donors are particularly incentivized to give when they reach the age threshold for required mandatory IRA distributions. Legislation signed into law at the end of December changes the age threshold for required minimum IRA distributions to age 72. Note that donors can still make tax-free qualified charitable distributions beginning at aged 70-1/2, though some may opt to wait until age 72 to make a gift.

Tap into League visa services amidst a wave of changing rules for guest artists

The League provides specialized assistance in navigating the complex visa requirements for guest artists. Orchestras should take note that multiple changes are being made to the forms used for visa processing, new requirements are in place for artists applying for an extension of their stay or a change in visa status, and the Trump Administration announced an expansion of travel restrictions, all while U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is considering a dramatic increase in filing fees. All of the details regarding policy changes are described in the news update section of the League's dedicated website Artists from Abroad, and the League's Washington, D.C. office is standing by to provide assistance to help orchestras continue to engage in essential international artistry.

Did your orchestra pay taxes on transportation benefits? Refunds now available!

The 21% Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) on parking and commuting benefits that was created by comprehensive tax reform signed into law in December 2017 has now been retroactively repealed. The unprecedented tax on nonprofit expenses created significant new costs to orchestras and the broader nonprofit sector, diverting essential resources needed for serving communities. Thanks to advocacy by the League and our member orchestras, in partnership with the broader nonprofit sector, the FY20 spending and tax package signed into law on December 20, 2019 retroactively repealed the UBIT on parking and commuting benefits. On January 22, 2020 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance on how to seek a refund for taxes paid on parking and commuting benefits. Please inform This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. of any concerns related to the refund process.