In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...
Charitable Deduction Correspondence with Secretary Yellen
The Charitable Giving Coalition, which includes the Council on Foundations, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen highlighting the importance of the charitable deduction and the coalition’s concerns about the proposal to cap itemized deductions at 28 percent of adjusted gross income for taxpayers earning over $400,000 per year.
Senate Finance Hearing on the Tax Code and Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Disparities
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on Tuesday about correcting racial inequities through the tax system. Witnesses discussed both changes to correct inequities perpetuated by the tax code and new ways to incentivize minority entrepreneurship, including an investment credit to encourage investments in small businesses started by entrepreneurs earning under $100,000 annually.
House Agriculture Hearing on Rural Broadband
The House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to discuss expanding broadband internet to rural communities. Witnesses testified that the process will require funds for mapping existing broadband access, building and improving internet infrastructure, and ensuring that infrastructure lasts well into the future.
Senate Banking Hearing on Investing in Rural Communities
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing on how best to invigorate economic development in rural areas. Lawmakers and witnesses discussed channels through which to address rural poverty and incentivize rural growth, especially in regions that have been subject to systemic underdevelopment.
On April 21, the Biden Administration released their fact sheet on how the American Jobs Plan will support women’s employment.
Department of Agriculture
On Tuesday, USDA issued a broad range of flexibilities to allow school meal programs and childcare institutions across the country to return to serving healthy meals in fall 2021, including several meal service flexibilities related to social distancing that are now extended through June 30, 2022. The waivers continue a commitment by the Biden Administration to provide safe, healthy meals free of charge to children as the pandemic continues to threaten the food and nutrition security of the nation’s most vulnerable children.
Department of Commerce
Small Business Administration
SBA is launching the Community Navigator Pilot Program, an initiative that strengthens outreach to underserved businesses through partnerships with organizations having deep roots in their communities. The “hub and spoke” approach features a lead non-profit – a “hub” – at the center of a network of “spoke” organizations that deploy trusted messengers to work with businesses in targeted communities. These networks leverage the business development expertise of the central hub organization and the community credibility of spoke organizations to better connect business owners in targeted communities with critical services and assistance programs. One hundred million in funding through the American Rescue Plan will establish Community Navigator Programs for individuals with disabilities and/or in minority, immigrant, rural, and other underserved communities across the country. Learn more about the program.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Monday unveiled a rule ordering debt collectors to inform tenants about their rights under a federal eviction ban if they’ve been unable to pay rent during the pandemic. The rule would order any third-party debt collector attempting to collect owed rent on behalf of a landlord to tell tenants that they may be protected from eviction under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium. Additionally, debt collectors would have to inform tenants about their rights under the CDC ban no later than when the renter receives an eviction notice.
Department of Energy
DOE announced by video this week that it will work with eleven remote and island communities around the U.S. to provide federal assistance though the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP) to bolster their energy infrastructure, reduce the risk of outages, and improve their future energy and economic outlook. Due to their geographic isolation, remote coastal and island communities often face high energy costs and vulnerable energy infrastructure due to their increased risk of natural disasters and climate change. The ETIPP’s community approach will leverage DOE's world-class experts and National Labs to advance local clean energy solutions and improve resilience for these locations. Each community will identify energy challenges and assistance needed to help them determine and direct their energy transition.
Department of Health and Human Services
Social Security Administration
The SSA published a Request for Information (RFI) on April 20 seeking public input to help identify priority questions to guide their evidence-building activities. SSA conducts evidence-building activities that include pilot projects, demonstration projects, quantitative studies, qualitative studies, and mixed methods studies that inform important priorities, such as delivering services effectively, improving the way it conducts business, updating policies and regulations, and ensuring effective stewardship.
Department of Homeland Security
Federal Emergency Management Agency
To comply with three presidential executive orders (13985, 13990, and 14008) related to addressing systemic barriers for people of color and other underserved groups in federal programs, FEMA posted a Request for Information (RFI) on April 21 seeking input from the public and stakeholders. The responses will assist FEMA in identifying specific programs, regulations, and/or policies that may benefit from modification, streamlining, expansion, or repeal to better address climate change and the needs of underserved communities and populations. The agency seeks feedback that is specific to programs, regulations, or policies that could benefit from reform. They seek to understand: specific barriers to participation, how to improve risk perception, how to offer actionable data, and how to offer viable alternatives to existing approaches. A webinar series to explain the executive orders and the RFI process will be announced shortly. Comments are due by June 21, 2021, and can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal, Docket ID: FEMA-2021-0011. Foundations with these interests should view this as a key policy opportunity to share data, lessons, innovations, and recommendations.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
On Tuesday, HUD announced the availability of $8.2 billion in Community Development Block Grant Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds for Puerto Rico, along with the removal of onerous restrictions unique to Puerto Rico that limited the island’s access to CDBG-DR recovery funds that were allocated following Hurricane Maria in September 2017. These actions are the latest in an ongoing whole-of-government effort to support the island’s recovery and renewal. The actions will unlock access to funds Puerto Rico needs to recover from past disasters and build resilience to future storms. Among the previous restrictions removed by HUD are the incremental grant obligations and review by the Federal Financial Monitor. HUD also removed the requirement for Puerto Rico to request and submit any certification, observations, and recommendations by the Financial Oversight and Management Board, beyond what is already required by law.
Department of Labor
DOL is extending an invitation to teens, parents, educators, employers, and other interested stakeholders to join a national online dialogue through April 30 to gather ideas on how the department can connect with teens better. The Department will use the insights received to develop effective ways to enhance its existing efforts to inform teens about avoiding workplace hazards; the types of work they are allowed to do; age restrictions for work hours; employer wage requirements; employment training, including apprenticeships; and workplace discrimination. The dialogue is part of the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s ePolicyWorks initiative.
Department of Treasury
On Monday, the Treasury Department announced its plans to fight climate change through fiscal policy, and will create a new office, the “Climate Hub,” to chart an economically beneficial path away from fossil fuel energy. The creation of the Climate Hub is the first major step in Treasury’s long-anticipated push to fight climate change and prepare the economy for climate-related risks. The office will coordinate climate-related initiatives across the entire Treasury Department. The main priority will be to help Treasury facilitate and unlock investments in energy technology and help to achieve a transition away from fossil fuels. Other responsibilities will include using tax and economic policies to support building infrastructure resilient to extreme weather, looking out for communities hit hard by climate change or pollution when crafting policies, and ensuring that the transition toward a carbon-neutral economy provides economic opportunities across income levels.
Internal Revenue Service
On April 14, the IRS formally invited the public to submit recommendations for items to be included on the 2021-2022 Priority Guidance Plan, the government’s regulatory “to do” list for tax matters. Specifically, the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy and the IRS use the Priority Guidance Plan each year to identify and prioritize the tax issues that should be addressed through regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, notices, and other published administrative guidance. Submit recommendations for guidance electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at Regulations.gov (IRS2021-0004). The deadline for submitting public recommendations is Friday, May 28, 2021.
Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.
Localities Eagerly Await Federal Aid
Local governments anticipate a large influx of federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to plug budget deficits, jumpstart local economies, and begin infrastructure plans delayed in the wake of the pandemic. Approximately $130 billion available under the state and local funding program in the federal legislation can be used for a broad range of spending priorities, including affordable housing, homelessness, broadband expansion, child care, and job training. The Mayor in Madison, Wisconsin plans to apply an equity lens in making spending decisions to focus on equity concerns and social justice reforms. The Mayor of Dayton, Ohio is looking to use the one-time funding for immediate needs that will not result in unsustainable expenses going forward.
Nonprofits are eligible recipients of state and local funding under the American Rescue Plan and have been alerting state and local officials to partnership opportunities. Maryland Nonprofits, the state association of nonprofits in the state, recently wrote to county and municipal leaders “to encourage their support of local nonprofits” and partnership with community foundations. The letter states, “Nonprofits are on the front lines of providing COVID-19 relief, reaching deeply into their communities with food distribution, rental assistance programs, support for seniors and people with disabilities.” It explains, “At the same time, nonprofits are businesses that have lost significant revenue due to COVID and have the same pressures of other businesses of meeting payroll, managing facilities, and putting safety measures in place.”