Note below was sent to the Star Tribune on Monday, May 27
It ain’t my fault. Osborne Brothers hit title. Video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5RDEXpc8OY Also the gist of what legislators are telling me when I ask them why licensed gaming charities did not get tax relief this legislative session. It was their fault (the other party), not ours is what I am being told.
Both sides of the aisle are now telling me that they were in favor of tax relief for charities, yet it did not get done for another year. Word was that even the Governor would not object, although that was never verified. If everyone was in favor of relief (or at least not against it), why would charities not have gotten tax relief?
If what we are being told is true, it would follow that tax relief will be a slam dunk next session. Why do I doubt that to be true? Charities must not accept being told that everyone is in favor of relief for them, but somehow it never gets done.
Charities deserve to know who is responsible for them not getting relief. I can give you a hundred million reasons ($100 million is what charities will have sent into state coffers by the end of FY2019) why I think that charities have earned the right to know.
Legislators have the right to support or not support a particular issue. What they don’t have is the right to make citizens believe that they support a particular issue, but in fact do the opposite behind closed doors. Charities are asking legislators to tell them the truth as to why they did not get relief. At the very least they owe charities that.
I had a friend tell me that legislators need to understand that support for charities means more than putting their name on a bill. It means that they actually lobby their fellow legislators and party leadership to make it happen. REMEMBER, WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY.
Charities are almost to the point where we are going to be sending in double of what was asked of us in 2012, with no end to the state’s appetite for money meant for charity work in sight. Next fiscal year the state will spend $24 billion, $2 billion per month, $462 million per week, $66 million per day, $2.75 million per hour. The proposed relief for charities in the Senate Omnibus tax bill would have accounted for less than 4 hours of the overall budget.
It is difficult to believe that 4 hours of relief could not have been found somewhere for charitable work. Relief for charities is not a gift, it is a reduction of an indefensible amount of taxation. The top charity tax rate would still have been 6.5 times what a for profit business in Minnesota pays.
What is most disappointing is that state government continues to take advantage of not for profit veteran, church, civic, youth, fire, police and community groups whose only purpose is to serve others. The state’s indifference to charity contributions (FY2018) in the areas of economic stimulus ($150 million), taxation ($85 million) and philanthropy ($70 million) is hard to comprehend.
2020 is an election year for all state senators and state representatives. Charities need to be asking their legislators if they are actually going to do something to help them get relief. If they are not willing to answer or say that they are not, that information needs to be shared with every charity in their district. Charities need to know who is truly with them on tax relief and who is against them.
Promises will no longer be accepted. Results will be. It is time to end the blame game and the support in name only game.
Al Lund, executive director Allied Charities of MN 501c6 trade association representing licensed non profits conducting charitable gaming.