Washington Snapshot

Washington Snapshot: President Biden Hosts United We Stand Summit

Friday, September 16, 2022 - 2:06 pm
Stephanie Powers
Council Connection: Updates for Council Members

Public policy news and updates for the philanthropic sector

Happening at the Council

Nonprofit Coalition Sends Letter to Congressional Leadership on Relief for Charities

Earlier this summer, the Council joined a coalition of nonprofit organizations calling on the President and congressional leadership to restore and improve charitable giving incentives and reinstate and enhance the Employee Retention Tax Credit. With nonprofits and foundations coming together to respond to the Jackson, Mississippi water disaster and numerous charitable organizations continuing to struggle to respond to other disasters, the coalition recently updated and reiterated the letter.

Values-Aligned Philanthropy: Corporations Take a Stand

On October 25, join the Council on Foundations as we partner with the Association of Corporate Citizenship Professionals to discuss why and how corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility programs are acting to prevent the funding of hate and extremism. We will learn more about this issue and why it is urgent, and hear from corporations who are taking action to make a difference.

2022 Public Policy Summit: Council Members Register for Free!

Join us for our annual Public Policy Summit on November 15-16—just one week after the midterm elections. We will come together as a virtual community to explore philanthropy’s role as a bridge-builder. Gain an insider’s view of how the midterm elections reshape the political landscape for philanthropy and learn how foundations can build common ground to advance the greater good, together. Registration is free for Council members and costs $229 for nonmembers before October 31. 

Happening on the Hill

Sen. Cotton Introduces Bill Paid for by Taxing University Endowments

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduced the American Workforce Act (S.4810), which would provide workers with a high school degree with a voucher to pay for workforce training through an employer. The vouchers would be paid for by creating a 1 percent tax on the aggregate fair market value of certain educational institutions’ assets, in addition to the 1.4 percent tax on net investment income of certain institutions included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The new tax would only apply to nonreligious institutions with an endowment of at least $2.5 billion and with more than 500 full-time students.

Senate Finance Committee Releases Full Text of Retirement Legislation

This week, the Senate Finance Committee released the full text of the bipartisan Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act (S.4808). As previously reported, the legislation includes certain provisions from the Legacy IRA Act (S.243). This version of the Legacy IRA Act would allow seniors to make a one-time $50,000 donation to a qualified charitable organization through a split-interest trust. These provisions are almost identical to the version passed by the House, but the two versions of the retirement legislation will still have to be reconciled before it can be passed into law.

The Council on Foundations supports the Legacy IRA Act, which helps ensure seniors are better able to support the charitable organizations important to them. We continue to urge Congress to expand the IRA charitable rollover to donor-advised funds and supporting organizations.

Elsewhere on the Hill

With government funding set to expire at the end of September, Congress is rushing to pass a continuing resolution to maintain funding at current levels until members can negotiate a full spending package, most likely after the November election. If Congress does not pass a continuing resolution by September 30, the government will shut down.

Happening in the Executive Branch

White House Requests Information on Equitable Data Collection

The White House recently released a request for information seeking input on how the federal government can encourage equitable data collaboration between different levels of government, grassroots organizations, and a broader range of researchers. This group includes community-based organizations. This is part of the President’s commitment to advancing equity for underserved communities. Submit formal comments by October 3.

President Biden Hosts United We Stand Summit

On Thursday, President Biden hosted a summit to counter the effects of hate-fueled violence and highlight responses nationwide to the rise of hate and extremism. The event, which included a bipartisan series of speakers, launched several initiatives that may be of interest to foundations and nonprofits, including Dignity.us, a Citizens’ Initiative to Address Hate-Fueled Violence in America; a Nation of Bridgebuilders; and Trust for Civic Infrastructure, which specifically calls for input from foundations and philanthropists. Read the White House’s Fact Sheet.

IRS Commissioner Term Coming to a Close

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig’s five-year term will end in two months. Commissioner Rettig, who was nominated by former President Trump and confirmed by the Senate, is scheduled to work his last day on November 12. Due to Congress’s many priorities through the end of the year, it is unlikely they will immediately confirm a new chief; instead, the IRS will likely have an interim commissioner for at least a short period of time.

This complicates Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s plans for the IRS, which recently received an additional $80 billion in funding over ten years. Secretary Yellen has said the agency will hire an additional 5,000 customer service representatives for the next tax season, improve its web presence, and increase oversight.

Happening in the States

Investing ARPA Funds: Addressing Job Vacancies and Equity

Several states recently announced investments of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds in programs that will provide training in fields experiencing shortages, bolster the workforce, and address disparities in the delivery of services. Colorado is investing $26 million of its allocation of federal funds over two years to fill vacancies in the health and hospital systems through its Care Forward Colorado Program. The program will provide tuition-free training for students enrolled to become certified nursing assistants, pharmacy technicians, or medical or dental assistants. New York Governor Hochul announced $343 million in federal funds for another round of child care provider stabilization grants. Three-quarters of those funds will be dedicated to supporting the childcare workforce through wage increases, tuition reimbursement, and bonuses. The state will also allocate $4 million in federal funds to support multilingual and underresourced students enrolled in mental health degree programs at state and city universities by providing tuition assistance, paid internships, and stipends to address a lack of diversity in the field. Direct federal support is going to the nonprofit Alaska Primary Care Association, which will receive a $9.7 million ARPA grant from the U.S Department of Commerce to address shortages in health care facilities by introducing high school students to careers in the field, offering trainings and certifications, and expanding an apprenticeship program focused on health care.

Learn more about the role of philanthropy in promoting effective ARPA investments by viewing the recording of a recent Council webinar, ARPA and Philanthropy: Seizing the Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity.

Courts Protect Property Tax Exemptions

State judges are maintaining property tax exemptions for charitable nonprofits and rejecting county assessor objections. Minnesota’s high court reversed a tax court ruling that claimed a nonprofit childcare center, which was licensed by the state, did not meet the exemption requirement of providing comprehensive educational services. The tax assessor claimed that the nonprofit childcare center did not have supporting testimony from the public school district that it met a higher standard for property tax exemption required by the state and “reduced the burden on public schools.” The state supreme court determined that the childcare center had “presented uncontroverted evidence” that it “has an educational purpose, provides a broad general education, and does so in a thorough and comprehensive manner.” 

A judge in New Jersey rejected a challenge from municipalities and determined that property tax exemption for certain nonprofit hospitals, including those that lease parts of their facilities to for-profit entities, is constitutional. The municipalities were challenging a law passed last year that reinstated property tax exemption for nonprofit hospitals, applied and increased a community service contribution rate, clarified that any portion of the property leased to a profit-making organization is not exempt from property taxes, and prevented third parties from challenging a nonprofit’s property tax exemption. The law was a result of years-long legal battles between the municipalities and local hospitals over property tax exemptions and the imposition of fees on nonprofit hospitals under the state constitution. 

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