Latest Policy Updates and Plans for Arts Advocacy Day 2019
February 28, 2019
Advocate with Us on Tuesday, March 5th and Beyond
Early next week, advocates will ask your members of Congress to support the arts in federal funding and policymaking. Whether you come to the nation's capital for Arts Advocacy Day or participate from home, it will be especially powerful to speak up on Tuesday, March 5, when art-makers and arts-lovers throughout the country mobilize to reach out to Congress. The League is a long-time national partner of Arts Advocacy Day and a trainer of advocates who come to D.C., and we have orchestra-specific issue briefs and online letters to Congress prepared for you, not just for March 5 but for the whole year. Find the full range of issues here, and catch up on a few key areas of interest for orchestras in the articles below.
Federal Government Back to Work and FY19 Funding Finalized
On February 15, the President signed into law a funding package from Congress that finalized the remaining spending bills for the 2019 fiscal year. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which had been one of several agencies affected by a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government, received a $2 million increase for a total allocation of $155 million, and recently announced its first round of major FY19 grants to arts organizations. The U.S. Department of Education's budget was passed last September, which preserved $29 million for the Assistance for Arts Education program and slightly increased the allocation for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (SSAEG) program.
'Tis the Season for Tax Filing and Speaking Up on Tax Policy
Orchestras from Maine to California are speaking up on nonprofit tax policy. As Americans begin filing taxes for 2018, news reports are beginning to pick up on early signals that charitable giving is slowing down and that the number of donors is on the decline, while giving by high-wealth donors may be rising. Many individuals and families are just beginning to see the personal result of changes due to the nearly-doubled standard deduction, caps for state and local tax deductions, and other myriad changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Nonprofit advocates, including the League's D.C. team, have been continually meeting with Congressional offices to urge enactment of a universal charitable deduction for all tax filers. Meanwhile, on February 22, the League filed comments to the Internal Revenue Service calling for a delay in implementing a very harmful unrelated business income tax on commuting and parking fringe benefits that has been newly imposed on nonprofit organizations.
Pictured below: The LA Phil's Leni Boorstin (2nd from the right) joins nonprofit colleagues from the Red Cross, YMCA, and other nonprofits meeting with Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (3rd from the right) in her district to discuss charitable giving.
IRS Working on Improvement to Foreign Artist Tax Policy
Relief may soon be in sight for foreign guest artists seeking to confirm taxes due for work performed with U.S. arts organizations. Last summer the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that as of October 1, 2008 nonresident performers would soon only qualify for a Central Withholding Agreement (CWA) if they individually earn $10,000 or more in gross income within the calendar year. The League joined colleagues from Tamizdat and CWA Management in discussions with the IRS to advance a policy solution to reinstate CWA eligibility. After meeting with key CWA program leaders from the IRS, the proposal was submitted formally with endorsement by many arts organizations including the American Federation of Musicians, North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents, World Music Consortium, and our performing arts sister organizations. IRS management responded favorably to the proposal and are working on developing a streamlined CWA process. Find complete information about U.S. visa and tax requirements for international artists on the League's dedicated website www.artistsfromabroad.org.