Public Policy Roundup: March Kicks Off With Sequestration

Monday, March 4, 2013
Senate Finance Committee members are expected to begin meeting together on a regular basis behind closed doors to work towards comprehensive tax reform. Lily Batchelder, chief tax counsel for the Democrats on the Committee, said that the panel typically works as a whole, such as it did in 2012 to craft bipartisan legislation on the highway bill and tax extenders legislation. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is now wrapping up one-on-one meetings with Committee members, and Democratic and Republican staffers are working together to develop options for members’ discussions. The Finance Committee plan contrasts to that of its House counterpart, the House Ways and Means Committee, which recently created 11 issue-specific working groups to address tax reform. On March 1, the Ways and Means Committee announced the creation of a new email address for the general public and other stakeholders to submit comments and open dialogue with the working groups. Comments will be accepted through April 15 and will be included in the final Joint Committee on Taxation report that is scheduled to be delivered to the Ways and Means Committee May 6.Source: BNA Daily Tax Report Learn more about the Ways and Means working group comment process
 
 
DF Policy Note: This has implications for nonprofit employers.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released February 20 a final rule on the definition of essential health benefits (EHBs), the determination of actuarial value in the individual and small group markets, and the minimum value (MV) standard for large employers. The final rule implements a requirement in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that the plans cover essential health benefits (EHBs) for 10 categories of care, including hospitalization, emergency care, mental health, and maternity care. In addition, the plans must cover a minimum of 60 percent of the actuarial value of covered medical services. Plans offered in the individual and small group markets, whether inside or outside state-based exchanges, must cover EHBs beginning in 2014. HHS, in conjunction with the Departments of Labor and Treasury, also released a separate frequently asked questions document on EHBs to serve as guidance for individuals and employers. Read the final rule and FAQs on EHBs Source: BNA Daily Tax Report, WCEY Report
 
Nonprofit property owners in Downers Grove, Illinois are now required to pay stormwater fees that are being used in place of property taxes to pay for the village’s stormwater sewer projects. The new fees impose on nonprofit property owners an average of $1,950 in costs per year. Leaders from the village’s churches and other nonprofits are voicing opposition to the so-called “fees.” "The bottom line is this is not something that's budgeted for the church. It's going to come right out of the collections," one church committee member said.Source: National Council of Nonprofits
 
Trend Watch: States Considering Local Options for Dealing with Nonprofits
 
Legislatures appear to be responding to budget complaints by local and county officials by considering legislation to turn over some taxing and other authority to local governments that will likely shift those same burdens onto charitable nonprofits. A Missouri law enacted last year paved the way for a Kansas City ordinance setting up a public vote in April on a package of tax reforms that include repeal of certain nonprofit exemptions from convention and tourism taxes. Legislation under consideration in Maine would expand the ability of municipalities to assess service charges in lieu of property taxes against tax-exempt properties, which would include all nonprofits except educational institutions and churches. Seeking to limit nonprofit tax exemptions in other ways, Montana leaders are considering a bill to authorize county governments to place a cap on the percentage of county lands that can be owned by a nonprofit organization and to approve or deny proposed property acquisitions by nonprofits. Meanwhile, North Dakota recently provided clear leadership to other states on this issue by resoundingly rejecting a measure that would have allowed cities to set up improvement districts to levy special assessments (or taxes) against tax-exempt nonprofit properties for safety and emergency services. The bill would have unfairly shifted these costs to and increased budget woes for nonprofits while mandating tax cuts for property tax payers. Source: National Council of Nonprofits