DC Update: A Cornucopia of Policy Developments!

November 22, 2013

Orchestras Speak Up to Protect Giving
On November 20, the League and member orchestras across the country joined nonprofit advocates in urging Congress to protect incentives for charitable giving. As part of a long-term effort to prevent policies that would reduce donations to nonprofits programs, advocates - including four League representatives joined in meetings with key policy leaders on the Hill, while hundreds of others sent messages to their elected officials. As budget decisions and tax reform efforts move ahead, you can do your part to describe how services to your community would be harmed by declines in charitable giving. 

IRA Rollover Expiring December 31!
As 2013 winds to close, a significant charitable giving incentive is also nearing its expiration date. The IRA Rollover allows donors aged 70 ½ and older to instruct their IRA administrators to make tax-free distributions of up to $100,000 directly from their IRAs to charitable organizations through December 31, 2013.  While this provision has proven to generate new and increased charitable donations for orchestras and other nonprofits in the years it has been available, legislation to extend the IRA Rollover is not likely to gain steam until well into the 2014 calendar year. Learn more about this important giving incentive.

New EU Rules Ease Travel with Instruments
The World Customs Organization (WCO) has announced that, effective November 21, musicians traveling through the European Union (EU) with portable musical instruments as professional equipment may use the “green” or “nothing to declare” customs channel at airports.  According to the new regulation adopted by the EU, “Total relief from import duties shall be granted for portable musical instruments temporarily imported by a traveler…with the intention of using them as professional equipment.” The WCO Secretary General has said the policy change will improve “cultural life and economic activities.”  Read more in the League’s Travel with Instruments resource center.

Down, Set, Mic!

Decisions will soon be made by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that could negatively impact wireless microphone users, including orchestras, other performing arts organizations, and even the NFL. Your member of Congress can go on record in support of the performing arts by becoming a cosponsor of The Wireless Microphone Users Interference Protection Act of 2013, introduced by Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL-01), which would protect performing arts wireless technology from potential interference. The League has been active on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of protecting wireless microphone use, joining with such varied partners as the National Football League and the Southern Baptist Convention. Learn how you can weigh in.

Possible Postage Increase in 2014
Orchestras should prepare for a possible postage rate increase as early as January. The Postal Service has proposed a rate hike of more than 6 percent, once again claiming “exigent” circumstances. Although its 2010 proposed rate increase was ultimately rejected by the Postal Regulatory Commission due to lack of sufficient evidence, orchestras should consider the budget implications if the latest proposal succeeds. Exigent rate increases are ones that exceed the rate of inflation due to severe and unusual circumstances. The League is part of a broad nonprofit network that opposes disproportionate increases that would do harm to nonprofits, and we will keep members up to date as more information becomes available.