Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nominate Your CPA Board Member for Special Award!

2011 Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builders Award Now Accepting Nominations
Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)

Submission Accepted through August 22nd, 2011

In recognition of the important role, talents and leadership that a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in New York State can provide as a board member for community-based charities, NYCON and NYSSCPA are pleased to announce the 8th Annual Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builders Award.

The award is named in honor of the late Michael H. Urbach, CPA, former partner of Urbach, Kahn and Werlin, former NYS Commissioner of Tax and Finance and Chair of the State Employees federated Appeal, and board leader of a number of charities.

Award Criteria & Submission

Candidates must:

  • Be a CPA in good standing and a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants;

  • Have served as an Officer on at least 3 different charitable 501(c)(3) community-based nonprofits with service as President/Chair at least once;

  • Have demonstrated exemplary board leadership resulting in significant and positive organizational impact including, but not limited to, financial turn-around, growth, and/or organizational re-structuring; and

  • Preference will be given to nominees whose board leadership accomplishments have been with community-based charities.

Deadline - August 22, 2011
Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be received by August 22nd. Nominators are strongly encouraged to address the candidate's qualifications related to the four (4) criteria's mentioned above and to include at least three (3) letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership.

Send seven (7) packets of nomination materials to:
Urbach Community Builders Award Committee
New York Council of Nonprofits
272 Broadway
Albany NY 12204

or email the packet to Melissa Currado, Executive Assistant to the CEO at

Announcement & Presentation
The 2011 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of October 6th at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York.

The Luncheon will take place during CAMP FINANCE, a two-day retreat that provides the very best in knowledge, skill and strategy sessions for your staff and volunteer leaders.

In honor of the late Harold Mandel, a certified public accountant who worked for Urbach, Kahn & Werlin in Albany, NY and retired in West Palm Beach, FL, the 2011 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award one (1) nonprofit executive of their choice a Camp Finance scholarship in Hal's name. In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award in his tribute.

Past Urbach Award Honorees
Edward S. Mucenski, CPA of Potsdam
Lewis "Lew" Kramer, CPA of Chappaqua
Mel Zachter, CPA of Staten Island
Eugene H. Fleishman, CPA of Poughkeepsie
Craig Sickler, CPA from Kingston
Paul Battaglia, CPA from Batavia

For More Information
visit NYCON at or contact Melissa Currado at (800) 515-5012 or

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Employee Fee For Nonprofits Using NYS Unemployment Insurance

Read below about the recent news about a new fee per employee for employers related to NYS Unemployment Insurance borrowing. As a nonprofit, there is another alternative, which you can learn about from NYCON:

Find Out if the Unemployment Savings Program for NYCON Members through First Nonprofits Companies can Save You Money.

Why pay a tax if you don’t have to? Many NYCON Members have switched from paying the state unemployment tax rates to First Nonprofit Unemployment Savings Program saving up to 60% of their unemployment costs annually. Find out if you can too. Take NYCON's FREE upcoming Beneft Spotlight: Unemployment Savings Program on August 23rd from 10 am to 11am. REGISTER HERE

A Big Bill for Employers
The Albany Times Union reported that Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday rolled out a sweeping plan to help revitalize the state's economy, complete with an ad campaign and competitive grant program designed to spark innovation.

But businesses have a more immediate concern: The bill is coming due for New York's unemployment insurance.

Citing the need to borrow more than $3 billion from the federal government to prop up its chronically empty account, the state faces a whopping $95 million interest payment on loans for the fund due Sept. 30.

As a result, the state Department of Labor is assessing businesses up to $21.25 per employee to cover the cost. That payment is due Aug. 15.

Complaints about what businesses describe as a hidden tax were rolling in Tuesday after numerous employers received the notices and as Cuomo expounded on his plans for the economy.

"This is something that could -- depending on the number of employees -- be a pretty hefty cost in this economy," said Mike Durant, New York state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

When asked about the surcharge during a news conference outlining his revitalization plans, Cuomo stressed that the bill for interest is ultimately coming from Washington, D.C.

"It's a federal decision whether or not they'll waive the interest payments. I hope that they do," he said, adding that his office was pushing the state's congressional delegation on the issue.

The hefty tab illustrates what can happen as the federal stimulus program, enacted shortly after the recession started in 2008, runs out.

The Department of Labor noted that the stimulus program provided no-interest loans to the states in 2009 and 2010, but not this year.

Read more:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reassessing nonprofits' free ride

The Buffalo News reported that as they struggle for revenue, municipalities look to tax-exempt entities to pay their 'fair share'

The New York Power Authority's 2,900-acre spread in Lewiston, including its massive Niagara Power Project, is assessed at $1.8 billion.

The Canisius College campus is assessed at $69 million.

And the assessment for Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Amherst is $37.7 million.

But they -- and scores of similar facilities owned or operated by nonprofits -- pay no village, town, city, school or county property taxes.

Now, local government officials here and across the country want to change this.

"It's an attempt to put a burden of the tax levy on the not-for-profits that are using services," said David C. Marrano, the Lancaster town assessor, who is negotiating payment agreements with nonprofits in the town. "At what point as a government do we ask these organizations to pay part of their fair share?"

Officials are prodding the operators of hospitals, senior housing facilities and private universities to pay something in place of property taxes.

At least 117 municipalities in 18 states -- most in the Northeast -- have reached payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreements with nonprofit organizations in the past, according to a report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Private colleges are frequent targets of revenue-seeking governments. Several Ivy League schools, along with Syracuse University and Schenectady's Union College, pay their host cities.

Syracuse will receive $2.5 million over the next five years from the university -- its largest owner of tax-exempt property -- in a deal reached last month, the Post-Standard newspaper reported.

Locally, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, the Episcopal Church Home & Affiliates and Hospice Buffalo all have reached payment agreements with their host communities.

Recent court cases have given the government officials leverage in negotiating these agreements, while in other cases the payments are worked out as part of the project approval process.

"We have been a partner with the Town of Cheektowaga since the origination," said Maureen Lehsten, chief financial officer for Hospice Buffalo, which operates the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care. "We work really well together. They've supported us in our growth on the campus in Cheektowaga."

Boston, Pittsburgh and other cash-strapped municipalities have become more aggressive in negotiating these agreements as they seek new sources of revenue to balance their budgets.

In response, nonprofit leaders defend their tax-exempt status and tout the services they provide that otherwise would be a government responsibility.

But it's a matter of fairness to government officials, who say exempting so many parcels from property taxes shifts too much of the burden onto other businesses and homeowners.

"We don't have anywhere to go except the taxpayer," said Mike Johnson, the Town of Lewiston's finance director.

These nonprofit institutions provide valuable services: treating the sick and poor, housing the elderly and infirm and tending to the public's spiritual or educational needs.

For this reason, schools, churches, hospitals and government offices are for the most part exempt from property tax.

Those institutions often must pay special district taxes such as water, sewer or fire.

In cities and older villages, where government buildings, religious institutions and similar structures tend to be concentrated, tax-exempt properties can account for a large proportion of all properties.

Vast sums of money
In Lewiston, where Niagara University, the Power Authority and other entities hold vast tracts of land, 67.7 percent of property in the town is not taxable, said Linda E. Johnson, the town assessor.

"We have probably the largest amount of tax-exempt land in Western New York," she said.

In Buffalo, developer Rocco Termini pointed to the construction of the new federal courthouse, at a site that previously held tax-paying businesses, and the tax-exempt research properties at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

"The costs, they're not distributed among all the buildings. Fifty percent of the buildings downtown are paying 100 percent of the tax load," Termini said. "I think everybody should pay something."

In Amherst, nearly 30 percent of property is tax exempt, said Town Assessor Harry Williams.

What if the exemptions didn't exist?

Read more here.