Five Worst Government Contracting Abuses
Late payments for contracted services is only one of many ways that governments shortchange nonprofits and exploit the contracting relationship. See the five worst government contracting abuses and let us know if you can add further documentation, if you've seen worse, or if you know of solutions in your state that help prevent these and other abuses.
Hearing to Consider Gulf Coast Need for Charitable Assistance
Viewing the impact of the Gulf oil spill on people in the region, Congress is asking "what needs to be done and how the charitable sector and others can reach out to these communities and help." The Oversight Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, July 20, to consider these questions and examine how donations contributed to charities are being used. In announcing the hearing, Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) stated, "This is the moment when government must rely on charitable organizations to fulfill their missions and address these urgent needs."
Rival Estate Tax Revisions Proposed
The estate tax expired at the end of 2009, but will snap back automatically in 2011 to a 55 percent tax rate with a $1 million exemption unless changes are made. Senators are proposing rival plans to weaken or strengthen the federal tax on estates. Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced a measure last week to set the estate tax rate at 35 percent, with a $5 million exemption phased in over 10 years and indexed for inflation. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently introduced the Responsible Estate Tax Act, S.3533 to set an exemption of $3.5 million and impose tax rates from between 35 percent and 55 percent based on the size of the estate above the exemption level. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he does not intend to allow any estate tax votes in the coming weeks, but he continues to negotiate with the Republican Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), on the Senate schedule and amendments.
Financial Regulatory Reform Enacted, Cuts Debit Card Fees
Last week the Senate passed and sent to President Obama the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (H.R.4173). The measure imposes new restrictions on risky financial investments, creates a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within the Federal Reserve, and allows the Federal Reserve to regulate the amount of fees that nonprofits and merchants can be charged for debit card transactions. President Obama is expected to sign the bill this week.
Nonprofit Sector Act
Federal Data of "Uncertain Quality"
The case for the Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act, H.R. 5533, was made recently by SubsidyScope, a program of Pew Charitable Trusts. In seeking to analyze the effects of tax subsidies and federal grants, the authors reached the following conclusions:
"It is challenging to assemble and present spending and subsidy data regarding the nonprofit sector because the federal government does not identify nonprofits as a distinct budget category. Further, federal budget data are of uncertain quality; specifically, the data available through USAspending.gov are incomplete because certain program information is missing for a number of records, making it difficult to discern which specific agencies and programs may be awarding funds to nonprofits."
A key component of H.R. 5533 is to overcome the data challenges that SubsidyScope, and many other nonprofit researchers, have identified.
IRS Seeks Comments on New Disclosure Requirement
The health care reform law enacted earlier this year requires nonprofits and businesses, starting in 2012, to report aggregate payments to vendors in excess of $600 for goods and other property. The requirement applies for payments to all vendors, not just those related to health care. Currently, nonprofits and others are required to file Form 1099s for payment of services by independent contractors, but not for goods from vendors. The IRS is seeking public comment on how to most effectively carry out the law change, with the stated goal of minimizing burdens and avoiding duplicate reporting. The deadline for comments is Sept. 29, 2010. Please share this information with your accounting and operations personnel and send the National Council your ideas on how best to limit the impact of this new reporting requirement.