Dear Agudath Israel Friends and Activists:
As you know, things are frantic and frenzied on Capitol Hill in the quest to address some of the corona-related issues our nation confronts. Sadly, two cloture votes to move forward on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) have failed, and negotiations are continuing.
I will briefly list some of the specific “nonprofit” concerns that face us at this juncture and emphasize that we need you to weigh in on them with Congressional leadership in the hours ahead. Since nonprofits will be called upon to step up and help address the most pressing needs of society, it is vital that our government help support the sector and protect it from the same adverse economic winds that will plague other parts of the economy, particularly as its sources of income dry up and its burdens increase.
Tell Congress that it must:
- Expressly include charitable nonprofits in the $200 Billion loan fund in the measure intended to protect vulnerable industries economically harmed by the virus. The charitable sector needs an immediate infusion of $60 billion – through loans and loan guarantees in a direct set aside for the nonprofit sector is a fast way to get cash in the hands of organizations serving immediate needs in communities, yet facing lost and declining revenue due to the pandemic.
- Improve the above-the-line charitable deduction and facilitate much needed charitable giving by raising the cap to $2,000 and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on their 2019 taxes (due on July 15), and afterwards through 2021. The “Lankford Amendment,” which will provide an nonitemizer, above-the-line deduction for charitable giving capped at 1/3 of the standard deduction and which contains no giving floor is an attractive option to accomplish this important goal;
- Clarify that charitable nonprofits of all sizes are able to participate in the emergency Small Business Loan Program – making small charities, including our mosdos eligible to receive $10 million loan — by using the tax-law definition of charitable organizations (Sec. 501(c)(3) public charities) and removing the language that excludes nonprofits that are eligible to receive Medicaid reimbursements. Removing this language would allow participation of Jewish nursing homes and Jewish family service and workforce development agencies, and group homes for adults with disabilities;
- Equitable participation of faith-based entities, including religious schools, making them full partners in participating in and administering program benefits, in line with recent Supreme Court decisions, and to do in full conformity with its religious mission, character and beliefs. In regard to education programs, specifically, any benefits made available to public schools should be made available to private and religious schools, in full accordance with the fundamental principle of “equitable participation.”
We add another issue that will help struggling families affected by the crisis:
- Enhancing “direct cash payments” and make them more helpful and meaningful particularly to larger families. This can be done by increasing the phaseout threshold by 70k per child, increasing the amount awarded per child from 500 to 1000 and basing cash grant on 2020 income rather than 2018 or on 3 year average including 2020; and
As our nation faces an unprecedented crisis, it desperately looks to our nation’s leaders for help. The above issues will lend vital support in helping our communities weather the effects of the humanitarian and economic disruption that lies ahead.
We urge you to urgently communicate these concerns to House and Senator leadership, as Congress considers this landmark legislation. You may reach them by using the “Take Action Now!” form below.
Wishing us all success in this important endeavor,
Rabbi Abba Cohen
Vice President for Government Affairs
Washington Director and Counsel