Get informed about the public policies affecting your work

Public Policy

As the largest association of fundraising leaders and professionals, AFP is on the front lines of protecting a policy and regulatory environment that promotes charitable giving and ethical, effective fundraising.

To stay current on laws and regulations that affect your work as a fundraiser, keep tabs on:

  • Congress’ tax-writing committees, the Senate Finance and House Ways & Means, which oversee issues like charitable tax deduction limits and the IRA charitable rollover.
  • The IRS Tax Exempt/ Government Entities Division, which makes tax determinations and rulings on charitable giving.
  • Judicial rulings that define donor intent.
  • Washington State Charity Advisory Council, which helps keep the Secretary of State informed about the nonprofit sector.
  • State legislative action on issues such as the management of endowment funds or a nonprofit exemption from the event resale tax.

View AFP Advancement Northwest’s public policy updates below and learn more by visiting AFP’s Public Policy page and by reading advocacy updates from the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning and Independent Sector.

July 2019

Universal Charitable Deduction – Take Action

AFP continues to push for the enactment of the universal charitable deduction, which is our key public policy priority for 2019. The universal charitable deduction would allow donors to deduct charitable donations from their taxable income, regardless of whether they itemized their taxes.

The deduction has been given more impetus since the release of Giving USA 2019, which showed a 3.4 percent drop in giving by individuals in 2018. While more research is needed, it is likely that some of the drop is attributable to the 2017 tax law, which doubled the standard deduction, making it more likely that taxpayers would not itemize their taxes and take advantage of the charitable deduction.

The Charitable Giving Coalition, co-chaired by AFP, distributed a statement talking about how the recent Giving USA numbers for 2018 point to the need for a universal charitable deduction. We encourage members to use the latest data in your letters to local Members of Congress.

In addition, we urge you to contact your local U.S. Representative(s) to sponsor H.R. 1260, which would create a universal charitable deduction.

In other policy news from AFP:

UBIT on Nonprofit Transportation Benefits

The House Ways and Means Committee has approved a provision that would eliminate a law that requires some tax-exempt organizations to pay unrelated business income tax (UBIT) on employee benefits, like parking, meals and transportation benefits.

The transportation fringe benefit tax has been a source of concern of charities since it was enacted into law as part of the comprehensive tax bill in late 2017. AFP opposed this provision in 2017 during the tax reform debate and has urged lawmakers to repeal it.

The provision is part of H.R. 3300, the Economic Mobility Act of 2019, and is likely to pass the House of Representatives. Action on the Senate side is unclear at this point, but the provision has garnered support from both Republicans and Democrats.

Research from Independent Sector found that the transportation fringe benefit tax will divert nearly $12,000 away from the average nonprofit organization’s mission.

Nonprofit Relief Act

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) introduced the Nonprofit Relief Act of 2019 to repeal provisions of the 2017 tax law related to UBIT, the paid leave tax credit and volunteer mileage reimbursement.

The legislation would repeal the new tax that requires nonprofits to treat every unrelated business revenue stream as a separate “trade or business” that may not be aggregated with other profits and losses in calculating tax liabilities. The bill also extends the paid leave tax credit to tax-exempt organizations and changes the tax treatment of mileage reimbursements to volunteers, so they are not subject to federal and state income taxes.

Mandatory Electronic For 990 Filing

Congress has approved a bill, H.R. 1957, the Taxpayer First Act, that would require most charities and nonprofits to file their Form 990 electronically. The provision is part of a series of proposals in the bill designed to make the Internal Revenue Service more “taxpayer-friendly.”

The bill now heads to the White House, where President Trump is expected to sign the bill given its strong bi-partisan support. If signed, the bill would take effect starting in 2020.

Under the bill, forms would need to be submitted in an electronic format that is easily searchable. Nonprofits with annual revenue of less than $200,000 and assets of less than $500,000 may ask the Treasury Department for a two-year delay if filing electronically would create an “undue burden.”