Welcome to the Alliance for Charitable Reform’s biweekly newsletter. Here we’ll provide you with news and views on issues that impact philanthropy.
For a refresher on the issues, visit our Archives
Friday, October 31, 2014
>> Federal: Lincoln’s Ghost
>> Federal: Washington Roundup
>> Federal: ACR Advisory Council on the Hill
>> Federal: How Philanthropy Changed My Life
>> Consider This: Tax Reform Following the Midterms
>> Top Reads: Donor-Advised Fund Spend-Down Proviso May Be Cut From Future Tax Overhaul Drafts
While we typically lead off the newsletter with the Washington Roundup, today it gets bumped in favor of a Halloween “Did you know?” about Abraham Lincoln’s ghost, courtesy of National Geographic.
“While staying at the White House in the 1940s, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill—who disliked sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom—emerged naked from a bathtub and walked into an adjoining room. There, he supposedly ran right into Lincoln, who was leaning on the mantle above the fireplace. They looked each other in the face, to Churchill’s embarrassment, and Lincoln abruptly vanished, according to an account in Mark Nesbitt’s book Civil War Ghost Trails: Stories from America’s Most Haunted Battlefields.”
As the midterm election approaches, Capitol Hill is nearly deserted—to the delight of the ghosts who haunt the Hill’s hallways—as lawmakers remain focused on their campaigns at home. Off the Hill, at a conference hosted by the D.C. Bar Association last week, House Ways and Means Committee majority tax staff said the Committee is still receiving feedback on Chairman Dave Camp’s (R-MI) tax reform discussion draft from “all kinds of stakeholders.” One staffer added that the Committee is open to altering some provisions, singling out the five-year spend-down requirement for donor-advised funds as an area they are “definitely looking at.” ACR has worked on this issue since the draft was released and we are encouraged to see that our outreach has made an impact.
Another Camp tax staffer also spoke at the event and said there’s “a good chance that [tax reform] will move forward in the next Congress” under a new Chairman. He pointed to ongoing interest from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) as another positive sign of continuing momentum on tax reform. While Chairman Camp will no longer be Chair in the next Congress, we do expect the next presumed Chair, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), to have a keen interest in tax reform as well.
Meanwhile, speculation continues as to whether current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will push to complete all must-pass legislation before the end of the year—should Republicans take control of the Senate—or wait to take up those issues next year. Among these issues is passing tax extenders, or annually expiring tax provisions, which include the IRA charitable rollover provision. We will continue to keep you updated as the process unfolds.
As you may recall, the ACR Strategy Committee met with Ways and Means tax staff in July to discuss our reaction to the Camp draft. Last week, ACR’s Advisory Council also met with committee staff to provide more technical feedback on ACR’s concerns with the draft, and to propose a few alternatives for the Committee to consider as work toward tax reform continues.
We would like to share one more video from the Annual Meeting of The Philanthropy Roundtable, which was held a few weeks ago in Salt Lake City, Utah. The concluding session, “How Philanthropy Changed My Life,” featured three American leaders who owe their successes to the creative giving a free society makes possible. Jason Tejada, one of over 139,000 Children’s Scholarship Fund recipients, chronicled his journey in New York City from Incarnation School to Columbia University to a career in finance. Another speaker was Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies and one of the scientists portrayed in the movie “Jurassic Park.” Jack’s Hell Creek Project, largely underwritten by philanthropy, led to fossil discoveries that have significantly advanced understanding of the growth of dinosaurs. The final speaker was Brent Adams, who founded the animation department at Brigham Young University. With the help of philanthropy, he confronted that pedagogical challenge and created a multi-disciplinary model across the engineering, computer science, and fine arts colleges at BYU.
With less than a week to go before the election, we don’t know for sure if Republicans will take control of the Senate, but we suspect they will. What does that mean for general policy and tax reform in particular?
If Republicans do take control of the Senate, we believe that leadership in both the House and Senate will want to put some semi-controversial issues away during the lame duck – issues like funding the government beyond December 11 and extending tax provisions like the IRA charitable rollover. While that may be the goal, things are often easier said than done.
On tax reform, the bar seems to be set high. Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), a leader in the House, went so far as to say that if Republicans take the Senate, “it’s a put-up or shut-up moment for us” on tax reform. On the Senate side, the presumed Chair of the Finance Committee if Republicans take control, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), has made it clear that tax reform is his top priority. His Democratic colleague, current Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), has been making pitches for tax reform as well. Even a former high ranking Obama Administration official, Gene Sperling, has chimed in to say that corporate tax reform might be doable in the next Congress. We take that as a signal that the Administration is thinking seriously about tax reform.
Regardless of which party is in control, we expect significant activity on taxes next year. However, as we know, dragging something far-reaching across the finish line for a Presidential signature is going to be tricky.
- National: Donor-Advised Fund Spend-Down Proviso May Be Cut From Future Tax Overhaul Drafts
- National: Nonprofits Worth $887.3 Billion To U.S. Economy
- National: Wealthy Charitable Giving On Rise, U.S. Study Shows
- National: Get The Most Out Of Your Charitable Giving
- Opinion: Phil Hanson: Polarized Congress should agree to help charities
- Opinion: Donor-Advised Funds Let Wall Street Steer Charitable Donations
- Opinion: Reclaiming the American Dream V: In the Bronx, A (Blue) Engine of Opportunity
- Opinion: Reclaiming The American Dream VI: The (Other) Lessons of Khan Academy
- Local: Generosity is a state of mind — and heart
- Local: Charitable giving in Cleveland twice U.S. average
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