Internal Revenue Service
The federal government is cracking down on nonprofit hospitals under ObamaCare in an attempt to prevent harsh collection practices and steep charges for the uninsured. Newly finalized regulations from the Internal Revenue Service, announced Monday, will require nonprofit hospitals to “take an active role in improving the health of the communities” by making payment methods more fair and making costs more transparent.
Donations climbed 3 percent last year to $335.2 billion after adjusting for inflation, with almost all of the increase coming from individuals, couples and estates, according to the latest figures from the Giving USA Foundation. The gains have been uneven, however, skewed toward groups favored by the upper-income households that benefited most from the rebound in stocks and housing. Groups connected to higher education, medical research and cultural institutions are flush, while growth for those such as the Salvation Army and United Way that rely on smaller individual gifts is lagging behind.
Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, such as Ripple and Litecoin, represent a total market capitalization of nearly $6 billion. Many large charities are eager to tap in to this market or have already received virtual donations, such as United Way Worldwide, which recently began accepting donations of Bitcoins. Smaller nonprofits have begun accepting the currency as well. This article discusses charitable donations of virtual currencies, including tax, appraisal, legal and processing considerations.
With Republicans poised to take control of the Senate following Tuesday’s elections, it's likely that lawmakers will dig into the tax code when a new Congress is sworn in. While that means added scrutiny on the charitable deduction and tax treatment of nonprofits, charity leaders are confident their cherished provisions will remain intact.
Before the current Congress wraps up its business, however, charity officials expect lawmakers to consider certain items in the tax code, including moving the deadline for claiming the charitable deduction from the end of the year until April 15.
As foundation executives leave for Capitol Hill to educate members of Congress about issues in philanthropy, one wonders whether the complexities and challenges of U.S. philanthropy haven’t been so downplayed in the foundation sector lobbying as to lead legislators into inappropriate conceptual byways. The simplification of philanthropy for the purposes of speaking to Capitol Hill legislators and staff members may be counterproductive in the long run.
Donor-advised funds have attracted an ever-larger chunk of American donations since the 1990s. Though legally public charities, they are more like holding tanks that let would-be philanthropists deposit money, collect the tax benefits up front and then decide later which causes they actually want to give to. Legally, there’s no limit to how long the money can sit there.
Those who donate to nonprofit organizations naturally want to feel their gifts will be used successfully in a way that will improve society or some part of it, like children, the sick, students, etc. But how can donors evaluate whether or not a charity will ultimately deliver on their promise or mission? In the nonprofit world, there is no common, easily understood measure of success. In fact, having a large positive bottom line may be an indicator that the organization is not doing as much as it could to fulfill its mission.
Even with households across the country feeling continued financial pressure, Americans donated an estimated $316.23 billion to charitable causes in 2012. Modest overall gains in total contributions mirrored the nation’s recent economic trends, Giving USA Foundation and its research partner, the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, announced. The 3.5 percent year-over-year growth rate (1.5 percent adjusted for inflation) in gifts from American individuals, corporations and foundations matches the same figurative portrait of 2012’s economic indicators — some trends were positive, others were negative, but overall, there was growth.
The Internal Revenue Service is so lax in asking taxpayers to prove the value of gifts of art, real estate, cars and other noncash contributions to charities that the federal government may be losing $1 billion a year, according to a new audit by a federal watchdog agency.
The 2012 presidential election broke the $2 billion milestone in its final weeks, becoming the most expensive in American political history, according to final federal finance reports released Thursday. The reports detailed a last-minute cascade of money from mega-donors and an onslaught of spending by the Obama and Romney campaigns and "super" political action committees. The Romney campaign's total for the election was more than $1 billion. Final fundraising and spending totals for President Barack Obama's victorious drive also topped $1 billion.