Orchestras Feeding America

Advocacy and government

Short-Term Cliff Deal Reinstates IRA Rollover and "Pease" Provision

January 3, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The tax deal passed by Congress on January 1 has encouraging but mixed results for charitable giving, and leaves much further work to be done throughout the coming year. The “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012”, as the bill is named, protects communities from the most dramatic caps to charitable deductions that were under consideration, reinstates the IRA Charitable Rollover provision, but also includes reinstatement of a more modest limit to all deductions for higher-income earners. Because the deal is a short-term fix to the fiscal cliff, we can expect further advocacy needed in the months ahead as Congress deals with the unfinished business of mandatory spending cuts and tax reform.

Charitable Giving Incentives: The cliff package does not include a flat percentage or dollar cap on charitable giving incentives as had been feared in the final weeks of 2012.  It does, however, reinstate the so-called “Pease” limitation on all itemized deductions for families earning over $300,000 per year ($250,000 for individuals). The provision first took effect in 1991 as a federal revenue generator, but was gradually phased out in the 2006-10 tax years as part of a larger effort at tax simplification.  The League and the broader nonprofit community had called on Congress to exempt charitable donations from the Pease provision. However, beginning with the 2013 tax year, the provision will reduce all tax deductions, including charitable deductions, by 3% of the amount that adjusted gross income exceeds the $300,000/$250,000 thresholds. The Pease provision was set to return as part of the expiring Bush tax cuts, and has been on the table as a revenue generator throughout the fiscal cliff negotiations as it had been included in the President’s FY13 budget request, in the “Buffet Rule” proposals that were in play in the House and Senate in 2012, and in a tax package passed by the Senate last summer. Implementation of the Pease provision is complicated, so please see this sample scenario for more details.

IRA Charitable Rollover Reinstated: The IRA Charitable Rollover provision was also reinstated for 2012 and 2013 in the tax deal Congress passed yesterday. The IRA Rollover provision has proven to generate new and increased charitable donations. It permits donors age 70 ½ and older to make tax-free charitable gifts directly from their IRAs, up to an annual ceiling of $100,000, but had expired at the end of 2011. Under the bill passed yesterday:

  • The IRA Rollover is reinstated retroactively for 2012, and is available through 2013.
  • IRA Rollover gifts made through January 31, 2013 will count as 2012 contributions.
  • Qualifying personal IRA distributions taken in the month of December 2012 can be counted as a “charitable rollover” if contributed to a charity as cash by January 31, 2013.

Thank You – and Prepare for More in 2013!  Orchestra advocates sent nearly 4,000 communications to Congress urging protection against caps on charitable giving incentives and immediate reinstatement of the IRA Charitable Rollover provision. The League will continue to amplify your voice in Washington as budget negotiations and tax reform debates continue. As a reminder, you can always find the latest news and key developments relating to tax policy in our dedicated issue area center within the League's website.

Act Now: Charitable Giving Incentives Threatened!

December 4, 2012

As Congress debates how to avoid the looming “fiscal cliff,” the deductibility of charitable contributions hangs in the balance. Policymakers are considering a wide range of proposals to reduce the tax incentive for charitable giving - including capping the dollar amount allowable for all itemized tax deductions, or reducing the rate of deductibility - in an effort to generate new federal revenue.

Your participation is needed to help Congress understand that limiting the charitable deduction would harm nonprofit services in communities nationwide.

The League is partnering with the broader nonprofit sector to urge Congress and the White House to preserve tax incentives for charitable giving. Today and tomorrow, orchestra advocates are encouraged to participate in "Protect Giving - DC Days" alongside representatives from a broad cross-section of nonprofit organizations.

WE NEED YOUR VOICE. Please contact your Members of Congress today to urge them to preserve charitable giving incentives as the tax reform debates continue. Tell them how charitable contributions support the unique, essential services your orchestra provides in your community.

Thank you in advance for your participation! Complete information - including talking points, background, and a sample letter to Congress - is available in the League's tax policy advocacy center. Please feel welcome to be in touch with the League’s advocacy team with any questions.


Immigration Officials in Dialogue with the League’s Heather Noonan

October 4, 2012

Personnel from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted a rare interview with Heather Noonan, the League’s vice president for advocacy, answering policy questions and sharing their observations about the visa petition process. Claire Nicholson and Christopher Bentley of USCIS headquarters shared their advice and observations in the interview, transcribed and posted online by Musical America as: A Conversation with USCIS. For complete guidance when engaging foreign guest artists, orchestras are reminded to visit our specialize site: www.artistsfromabroad.org.

League Weighs in on Cross-Border Travel Rules

October 17,2012

Orchestras and musicians that travel abroad should be aware of changes under discussion regarding customs documentation for musical instruments. The U.S. is proposing an international "passport" system for musical instruments.  In advance of the March 2013 convening of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is proposing a new resolution to potentially streamline and make uniform the permit requirements for musical instruments that cross borders. In close partnership with the American Federation of Musicians and The Recording Academy, the League submitted recommendations to FWS and has met with top officials in DC, urging U.S. policy leaders to ensure that any new permitting approach would not result in any unintended paperwork burdens or costs. There will be an opportunity for public comment in November, and the League will be reaching out to orchestras to weigh in. If your orchestra tours internationally, please feel welcome to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the DC office to discuss this topic in further detail. The League will keep orchestras apprised as further details emerge.

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