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Senators Caution Finance Committee on Impact of Charitable Reforms

(June 6, 2005) A bi-partisan group of U.S. Senators, led by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), have sent a letter to the leaders of the Finance Committee, urging them to ensure that their proposed charitable reforms do not adversely affect legitimate nonprofit organizations.

While applauding the Finance Committee's work in trying to root out wrongdoers, the 20 Senators encourage the committee to keep in mind the following considerations as it moves forward in its deliberations:

  1. The Internal Revenue Service should enforce existing laws against abuses
  2. The impact on smaller philanthropic organizations must be more full considered
  3. The impact on charitable giving must be more fully vetted
  4. 'One size fits all' is not a workable approach
  5. Families should be encouraged to be philanthropic

'We're very pleased with the letter, as these are many of the arguments that we have been making on Capitol Hill over the past couple of years,' said AFP President and CEO Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE. 'That we have one-fifth of the U.S. Senate urging the Finance Committee to slow down and reconsider the impact of its proposals is a very encouraging sign. Our message is getting through.'

A copy of the letter is available in the Attachments section below.

Committee to Hold Hearing on Land-Related Charitable Reforms This Week

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, June 8, on issues related to donations of property. The Committee likely will discuss changes in the rules for donation of land, conservation easements and historic facade easements, as well as other revenue-raising provisions.

Confirmed witnesses are:

  • Mr. Jonathan Selib, tax counsel, U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Dean Zerbe, tax counsel and senior counsel to the chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Earl E. Devaney, inspector general, U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Steven J. McCormick, president and CEO, Nature Conservancy, Arlington, Va.
  • Mr. Ira Millstein, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, New York, N.Y.
  • Mr. Rand Wentworh, president, Land Trust Alliance, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Timothy Lindstrom, director of protection & staff attorney, Jackson Hole Land Trust, Jackson, Wyo.
  • Mr. Burnet R. Maybank, III, director, South Carolina Department of Revenue, Columbia, S.C.
  • Mr. Steven T. Miller, commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Operating Division, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, DC.

AFP plans to attend the hearing and will keep members apprised of any significant developments.

Senator Grassley is expected to introduce charitable reform legislation shortly after this week's hearing. With time growing short, AFP urges all members to tell Congress that many of these reforms are ill-advised and that the federal government should not try to reap revenue on the backs of charities. A sample letter and other resources are available on the AFP website.

If you have already contacted your members of Congress, please recruit others - colleagues, donors, volunteers and board members - to do the same.


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