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New Charitable Regulations Not High Priority for Finance Chair

(Aug. 20, 2007) The chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) recently told The Chronicle of Philanthropy that enacting new charitable reforms is not high on his priority list.

“That’s not at the top of my list,” Baucus said, referring to charitable regulations in an interview with the Chronicle (“Key Senator Has No Plans for Legislation to Curb Charitable Abuses,” Aug. 10, 2007). “I haven’t got time.”

Baucus also indicated his support for extending the IRA Rollover provision, but was less enthusiastic about extending the provision to different types of groups and increasing the amount donors can give. He pointed to new budget provisions—the “pay as you go rule,” meaning any tax cuts must be paid for with either tax increases or spending cuts—that would make expanding the provision very difficult and potentially politically unfeasible. “I want to look at the extension [of the IRA benefit] first because I just know it’s going to be difficult to extend it very far,” he said in the article.

Rollover Still Feasible

Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP, said she understands Baucus’ concerns about the “pay as you go” provision and extending the IRA rollover, but noted that Congress could easily decide to extend and expand the provision if it desired.

“Congress has to make spending decisions all the time, and it’s simply a question of priorities,” she said. “Our job, as the fundraising profession and the nonprofit sector, is to advocate strongly enough for the IRA Rollover provision so that Congress makes it a priority. We’ve continued to write letters, send emails and call congressional offices so that those on Capitol Hill know that this provision is critical, not just to the health of the sector, but also to millions of people across the nation touched by the sector’s work.”

Information on the IRA Rollover provision, including step-by-step instructions on how to contact your members of Congress, can be found here.

Hospital Charity Care

In the article, Baucus expressed concern about a proposal that would require nonprofit hospitals to spend at least 5 percent of their annual budgets on charity cases or lose their tax-exempt status.

“Some hospitals do far more than 5 percent, some do far less than 5 percent,” said Baucus in the article. “In some areas, it’s very hard to do 5 percent. It depends on the community that you’re in.” He did say that he glad the issue had been raised, as it was causing the nonprofit hospital community to examine their services and develop guidelines.

Baucus also said he was supportive of additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, he did not single out any particular IRS responsibility, such as monitoring nonprofits.

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