Washington Snapshot: TAKE ACTION NOW to Protect Charitable Giving

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot


Congress IconNews from the Hill

Finally, We Know What’s up with Tax Reform

It was a whirlwind of a week for tax reform! First things first: the Council has made available a summary of the provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) that would impact philanthropy. We will update this analysis as proceedings continue, but if you have any questions, please reach out to the government relations team at govt@cof.org.

Also this week, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT)—a nonpartisan committee of the United States Congress that supports the tax-writing committees in the House and Senate—released an analysis of the impact of H.R. 1 on charitable deductions for fiscal year (FY) 2018. Under current law, JCT estimates that 40.7 million taxpayers will claim a total of $241.1 billion in charitable deductions in 2018. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, only 9.4 million taxpayers will claim a total of just $146.3 billion—a decrease of approximately 40%, or $95 billion.

In response to the release of the JCT report, the Council’s President and CEO Vikki Spruill issued a statement that said, in part, “The Joint Committee on Taxation has released an analysis of the impact of the recently introduced tax reform bill on charitable deductions for fiscal year 2018, and it confirms our biggest fears. The analysis finds that charitable deductions would be decimated under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1).” The Council continues to work with legislators in hopes of improving the bill so that the charitable sector is protected and expanded in any tax reform bill.

The Council sent an email to every Member of Congress yesterday to share the JCT analysis and state our opposition to H.R. 1—but we need YOU to amplify that message and contact your Members of Congress today! This is the moment where it will be decided whether to sacrifice charitable giving and deductions in exchange for the other proposed tax cuts in the bill. Your Representatives need to know how devastating that would be for your community. And you, as a foundation and community leader, are in the best position to tell them that.

In the House, the Ways and Means Committee began marking-up the H.R. 1 on Monday, and proceedings continued through the week. Yesterday, during the third day of markup for H.R. 1, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) offered to an amendment to strike Section 5201 from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This section would weaken the "Johnson Amendment" by allowing churches, church auxiliaries, and church conventions to endorse candidates for public office in certain circumstances. Republican Reps. Peter Roskam (IL-6), Pat Meehan (PA-7), and Kenny Marchant (TX-24) spoke against the amendment, while Democrat Reps. Lewis (GA-5), Richard Neal (MA-1), Ron Kind (WI-3), and Danny Davis (IL-7) spoke in support of the amendment. The amendment failed 16 to 23 on a straight party line vote.

According to NPR, “the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to approve that tax bill within the next several days, paving the way for a full House vote as early as next week.” This would allow for the House to pass H.R. 1 before the week of Thanksgiving.

Amid conflicting reports, Senate Finance Committee Republicans are set to unveil their version of comprehensive tax reform later today. While that had been the plan since last week, Axios reported on Wednesday that the Senate was planning to delay the release of the legislation until after the House Ways and Means Committee had finished marking up H.R. 1. However, BGov later reported that the Committee was on track to unveil the bill today as planned.

While this is good news for those wishing to see tax reform completed by the end of the year, significant hurdles still remain. According to POLITICO, "Senate Republicans plan to unveil a bill to rewrite the tax code that sharply diverges from the House GOP's plan, including by not fully repealing the estate tax. GOP leaders will brief the conference on the details of their long-awaited tax overhaul legislation on Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m. in the Strom Thurmond room at the Capitol, according to two sources.” After releasing the bill to other Republicans not on the Finance Committee, the bill is expected to be released to the public.

The article further notes that the initial Republican conference meeting aims to walk non-Committee members through the details of the plan, which will significantly differ from the House version. It is expected that the Finance Committee will begin their markup of the legislation on Monday and it will likely last several days. Once the bill is approved by the committee—which is not necessarily assured—it will be considered on the Senate floor. If the House and Senate bills end up being as different as some reports are suggesting, there will likely need to go to conference in order to settle the differences before sending the bill to President Trump’s desk for his signature.


Executive & Regulatory News IconExecutive & Regulatory News

New Report Details Recommendations for Combatting the Opioid Crisis

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has released its report of 56 recommendations to address the national crisis which the President declared an epidemic on Oct. 26. The bipartisan Commission, led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, held a series of hearings over the past months and the report contains its conclusions and recommendations to combat a deadly addiction epidemic that range from creating more drug courts to vastly expanding access to medications that treat addiction, including in jails.


State Policy IconHappening in the States

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

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Election Day 2017 Results

Two gubernatorial races, more than a dozen big city mayoral races, special-election state races, city and county council races, local school board races, and ballot measures were all taken up this Election Day 2017, reminding the country that local and state elections happen every year and hit close to home. The most watched race for Virginia Governor went to Democrat Ralph Northam, and New Jersey elected Democrat Phil Murphy. There are 36 races for governor in 2018.

State legislative races also went to democratic contenders in Georgia, New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, giving Democrats complete control of nine states. However, Republicans still control the majority of states and chambers nationwide. Most incumbent mayors retained their jobs in big cities, but Charlotte, North Carolina elected its seventh mayor in eight years. As for ballot measures, Maine became the first state to expand Medicaid via the populous, and Tucson, Arizona voters rejected proposals to hike sales taxes to fund early childhood education and the local zoo.

New Mexico Alleges Solicitation Violations on Behalf of Nonprofits

The New Mexico Attorney General recently filed two lawsuits against two nonprofits purporting to serve veterans and Social Security benefit recipients. The action alleges 28 counts of illegal activity, including mail fraud and money laundering. Federal criminal charges may also be pending after a yearlong investigation by the Internal Revenue Service. The New Mexico Attorney General also plans to seek additional funding from the Legislature for oversight and law enforcement against charitable nonprofits and those pretending to be nonprofits.

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This would be bad!

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