Washington Snapshot - June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013

Welcome to the Council’s Weekly Washington Snapshot

The Council on Foundations Public Policy and Legal Affairs team is pleased to launch a new weekly Washington Snapshot. Every Thursday afternoon, this newsletter will give you a quick glimpse at some of the pressing issues we’re engaged in here in Washington—issues that could have a direct impact on philanthropic organizations and the broader nonprofit community.

We’ll expand our Snapshot content over the coming months, so we welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Sue Santa
Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs

Giving USA 2013 Report Released

Giving USA 2013, an annual, in-depth profile on charitable giving, was released this week. Overall, it found that charitable giving increased by 3.5 percent in 2012, which translates to combined giving of $316.23 billion by individuals, corporations, and foundations. As Congress prepares for tax reform legislation and contemplates what, if any, changes might be made to the charitable deduction, it is particularly interesting that the report found itemized giving comprised 81 percent of the total estimate for giving by individuals.

Giving USA 2013 offers a comprehensive analysis of charitable giving with far too many interesting facts and figures for us to summarize here. We encourage you to take a look at this press release and view the executive summary on the Giving USA website for more information.

Next week, Snapshot will provide additional coverage of the report, including comments made at the Giving USA 2013: Who Gave, How Much, and to Whom in 2012 event being hosted next week by the Hudson Institute. Several members of our staff will be there.

Senate Finance Committee Releases White Paper on Tax-Exempt Organizations and Charitable Giving

On June 13, the Senate Finance Committee released a White Paper on tax reform options related to tax-exempt organizations and charitable giving.

Committee members and senior staff have attended weekly meetings over the course of the last several months, with each exploring a subset of issues that will arise during the tax reform debate. Topics of interest to our sector were the focus of the June 13 meeting. The Committee stressed that this should be viewed as a compilation of previous proposals related to tax-exempt organizations and charitable giving. The report does not give one option more weight than another, but was presented to members as a way to educate them on a range of issues.

The report covers many of the issues that the Council and our colleagues have been raising for years. From here, the Council team will be working with members and staff on the tax writing committees in both the House and Senate to educate them on these issues and follow the process as members identify provisions that will make it into the tax reform packages.

Of course, you can anticipate reporting on this topic in all upcoming issues of Snapshot.

Baucus and Camp Plan Summer Tax Reform Road Show

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont) and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) recently announced a summer roadshow on tax reform. Details will be forthcoming. The Council team will update our members, through Snapshot and other communications, on further event details and offer suggestions on how we can amplify our messages in the field as these events unfold.

The two men have been working closely together during this lengthy tax reform process. In case you hadn’t seen it, here is their co-authored editorial in the Wall Street Journal from earlier this year.

Continued IRS Scrutiny

The controversy around the IRS and its Exempt Organization Division, prompted by findings that certain applications for (c)(4) status were singled out in the certification process, marches on—and all signals point to congressional scrutiny continuing. The Council continues to track this very closely, with particular attention to how the proceedings could expand to (c)(3) organizations. Snapshot will cover the action as it unfolds. Right now, you might find this Business Week article and this Wall Street Journal article interesting.