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Charitable Reforms Face Roadblock in the House

(Nov. 7, 2005) A key Democratic staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives has indicated that the Senate Finance Committee's proposed charitable reforms are 'off the table' and will not be considered by the House at this point.

John Buckley, Democratic tax counsel with the House Ways and Means Committee (the Senate Finance Committee's counterpart in the House) told an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants panel that there never was much support for the reform in the House. He also indicated that support in the Senate was dwindling.

Buckley noted that the sector's response was especially crucial in stopping the reforms. It was critical that the sector did not deny any problems, he said, but instead proposed its own modest proposals that included some government action as well as additional self-regulation.

Despite the loss of momentum for the reforms, Buckley cautioned the sector that close scrutiny was far from over, noting the Finance Committee's recent investigation of Benjamin Ladner, former president of Washington, D.C.-based American University. Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently made inquiries of the university following reports of compensation issues relating to Ladner's lifestyle and severance package.

In addition, there continues to be discussion of possibly moving the CARE Act and other charitable giving incentives together with some of the reforms proposed by Grassley and his committee. It's difficult to foresee at this moment how the House would respond to such a proposal if it passed the Senate.

AFP continues to closely monitor the work of the Senate Finance Committee and to meet weekly with key congressional offices on these issues.

AFP also is beginning to push again for passage of the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act. The bill, S. 1780 in the Senate and H.R. 3908 in the House (where it's known as the Charitable Giving Act), includes the IRA Rollover provision, the non-itemizer deduction and enhanced incentives for gifts of food and book inventories.

For more information on the CARE Act, click here.

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