Contact: Sheila Smith, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts
Executive Director, 651.251.0868
Wide, diverse set of Minnesota’s nonprofit organizations aligned against harmful federal tax bill
Minnesota’s nonprofit community, a sector that employs nearly 12 percent of Minnesota’s workforce and partners with millions, is aligned in its opposition to the harmful and unprecedented federal tax bill.
Minnesota Citizens for the Arts (MCA) and our 1600 affiliated nonprofit arts and culture organizations are concerned about the impact of proposed changes in the federal tax law currently under consideration in Congress. These include changes in charitable giving laws and the fundamental change in the relationship between partisan politics and the traditionally non-partisan nonprofit organizations who are focused on their missions of serving the public through providing services, educational opportunities, and access to the arts. These changes are inappropriate for the nonprofit sector and will hurt access to the arts and other nonprofit services for all Minnesotans.
Specifically, we oppose reducing tax incentives for charitable giving that undermine the strength of the nonprofit sector. We support allowing more, not fewer people who can itemize their deductions. The proposal to reduce the number of people who can take deductions will have an overall effect of reducing charitable giving by $13 billion annually. The loss of that revenue will devastate the nonprofit sector by removing resources that enable us to accomplish our community-focused missions. The push to devalue charitable deductions is being made without consideration about how it will affect our work or how it will affect people who support nonprofits with their charitable giving.
We also oppose undermining the guarantee of nonpartisanship. The House version of this bill will radically change the longstanding, vital protection in law for the nonpartisanship of charitable, religious and philanthropic organizations. These changes would allow political operatives to pressure those organizations to endorse or oppose candidates for public office and make anonymous political donations tax deductible when funneled through 501c(3)s, thus turning mission-driving nonprofits who are serving their communities into conduits for dark political money that can’t be traced. This fundamental change in the nature of nonprofits was not asked for by the nonprofit sector, nor was the nonprofit sector consulted on the impact of such a fundamental change.
Third, we oppose the Robert’s Amendment which strikes low-income artist housing from the list of qualified groups who can benefit from federally subsidized low-income housing. It would forbid developers from using housing credits to build affordable housing with a preference for low income artists. Moreover, as written, the law would also render all existing artists’ housing developments built with housing credits retroactively ineligible for the benefit. The amendment includes a simple line-for-line language swap. Where current law carves out a special exception for individuals “who are involved in artistic or literary activities,” the new bill would instead specify a benefit for those “who are veterans of the Armed Forces.” While we are also supportive of housing for veterans, we believe both should be included, not one swapped for another. Elimination of this tax credit for low income artists will have a significant impact on the ability of cities to protect their cultural community.
We ask that as Congress considers changes to the nation’s tax laws, that they:
- Strengthen the nonprofit sector by maintaining existing incentives for charitable giving and expanding the charitable deduction to all taxpayers, not just those who itemize, and
- Protect the long tradition of nonpartisanship in 501c(3) nonprofit organizations by preserving the Johnson Amendment, and
- Preserve the artist preference clause and add the new Veterans preference language added to it, making it a stronger and more inclusive piece of legislation.
We believe that with legislation that reflects these values, we can work together to build thriving communities on a strong foundation of service and access to the arts for all. If these changes can’t be made, we ask that our members of Congress vote against the bill.