Monday, January 14, 2013

Justify Thyself?

In one way or another, nonprofit organizations are continually required to justify their own existence.  That is, as organizations exempt from taxation.  The Catch 22 in responding to the mandate is that nonprofits implicitly justify the unstated question:  "Are you even worth it?"  Nonprofits either justify the question or appear to "protest too much."  Better to just address the question head on if you ask me but not through boilerplate That's the question, after all, implicit in local municipalities' continuing efforts to impose PILOTS on nonprofits. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for example, recently appointed another PILOT task force whose ultimate charge is to determine whether nonprofits are "worth it?"  "Well . . .  are you!?"  asks Pittsfied, Massachussetts' Mayor, according to this report.  Meanwhile, local nonprofit organizations continually issue those boring and, even worse, less convincing studies designed to show their significant positive impact on local economies.  North Dakota, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Oregon are just some of the states adhering to the same old tired playbook.  Meanwhile, local governments push ahead with their plans, slowly but continually eroding tax exemption on the local level.  Deservedly so, if all nonprofits can do is issue reports that don't get to the real question; "what exactly does the tax exempt nonprofit sector provide that cannot be had from the taxable for profit sector?"  I think this is the nagging question that follows nonprofits from 2012 and into 2013.  Justify thyself.

DKJ

[See Payroll tax would elicit some cash from large Pittsburgh nonprofits (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)]

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