CoF Annual Conference – Legislative and Regulatory Update

The Council on Foundations Annual Conference included a session entitled The Latest from Washington:  Legislative and Regulatory Update, featuring Steve Gunderson, President and CEO, Council on Foundations; and Diana Aviv, President and CEO, Independent Sector.  Here are just a few of the illuminating observations made:

  • Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Charles Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, desire product in this session.  Rangel is expected to revisit the issue of the bases of tax-exemption.
  • Senator Charles Grassley, while no longer Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, continues to have major influence, particularly on governance-related measures (e.g., Grassley Amendment on Smithsonian – more on that in a future post).
  • Executive compensation does not appear to be a pressing issue.  However, Gunderson emphasized that this is not an issue the sector would want in a bill in an election year where limitations might resonate with the public.
  • The IRA rollover has a good chance of becoming permanent according to Gunderson.  Whether donor-advised funds will be included as permissible recipients will depend on the Treasury Report expected in August and pay-go rules that require certain types of new government spending to be offset with savings elsewhere in the budget.  Aviv is not as optimistic about passage of a new bill but believes an extension is more likely.
  • Foundations should join associations like the Council on Foundations or Independent Sector as philanthropic citizens with responsibilities to the philanthropic community.  If the philanthropic community doesn’t make decisions, including how charity is defined, someone else will.
  • Hospitals and higher education are subsectors that will likely fact more scrutiny than private foundations in the coming years.