Tax­pay­ers should de­cide what non­prof­its to sup­port

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - Gains Hop­kins, Char­lotte Hall

There have been sev­eral ar­ti­cles in the In­de­pen­dent (the most re­cent be­ing in July 8, edi­tion, Page A3) con­cern­ing how our com­mis­sion­ers have 1) “worked” to iden­tify non­prof­its wor­thy of the re­ceipt of lo­cal gov­ern­ment funds and/or 2) the amount of gov­ern­ment largesse that will be provided to the lucky re­cip­i­ents. As a re­tiree who is con­cerned about what our com­mis­sion­ers do with our taxes, I have sev­eral ques­tions which all of us cit­i­zens need to pose to the com­mis­sion­ers and upon which we need to de­mand an­swers.

The first and most im­por­tant ques­tion is “why?” Why are our com­mis­sion­ers giv­ing our money away to pri­vate non­profit en­ti­ties? Pre­sum­ably, th­ese non­prof­its are exempt from tax­a­tion, state and fed­eral, so gov­ern­ment “gifts” are a dou­ble deuce in­sult to the tax­pay­ers who get ham­mered twice — once in that the non­prof­its pay no tax and thereby in­crease our taxes and, sec­ond, by the fact that our taxes could be low­ered if not for this and other gen­eros­ity of the com­mis­sion­ers. Are th­ese non­profit sub­si­dies in re­al­ity a type of po­lit­i­cal slush fund that helps en­sure the re­elec­tion of the com­mis­sion­ers who “take care” of their fa­vorite “char­i­ties?” I won­der.

All of us are pres­sured in our jobs, in mail, ra­dio, tele­vi­sion and tele­phone so­lic­i­ta­tions, etc. by non­prof­its and var­i­ous and sundry su­per fundrais­ers for non­prof­its, and in a mul­ti­tude of other ways for con­tri­bu­tions to non­profit en­ti­ties — in­clud­ing re­li­gious en­ti­ties. There are also nu­mer­ous other non­profit en­ti­ties that are af­fil­i­ated with var­i­ous trades and pro­fes­sions and unions representing mem­bers. Most of us who con­trib­ute to non­prof­its do so only af­ter care­ful due dili­gence es­pe­cially in view of the re­cent news con­cern­ing fraud in sev­eral non­profit fundrais­ing ef­forts. We also need to care­fully re­tain our con­sti­tu­tional free­dom to select causes we choose to sup­port. One re­cent case in Mary­land in­volved an en­tity that al­legedly was rais­ing money for vet­er­ans in a fraud­u­lent scheme. We are also aware that even for law abid­ing, well-mean­ing non­profit en­ti­ties and um­brella groups, very lit­tle of the money con­trib­uted ac­tu­ally reaches the ad­ver­tised, “in­tended” ben­e­fi­cia­ries. Of­ten­times, non­prof­its are es­tab­lished to of­fer “ser­vices” that are du­plica­tive of pri­vate and gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

If lo­cal gov­ern­ment de­cides to sup­port non­prof­its, what cri­te­ria are fol­lowed to en­sure that the non­prof­its are in com­pli­ance with all laws and reg­u­la­tions per­tain­ing to the for­ma­tion and op­er­a­tion of a non­profit? How about whether the need is le­git­i­mate? How does any­one know how much in­come prin­ci­pals and those af­fil­i­ated with the non­profit re­ceive and whether per­sonal in­come is re­ported? We know that the IRS is un­der­manned and un­able to prop­erly reg­u­late and mon­i­tor all non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions; there­fore, how much sense does it make for a lo­cal gov­ern­ment en­tity to pre­sume that it has the in­fal­li­ble and om­nipo­tent power to know that its fa­vored non­prof­its are in com­pli­ance with the myr­iad of laws and reg­u­la­tions per­tain­ing to non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions? Many of the so-called ser­vices are not provided by gov­ern­ment and have noth­ing to do with the role of gov­ern­ment.

The lat­est drama in this saga per­tains to the com­mis­sion­ers de­sir­ing to “move” $196,900 from the “fund bal­ance” within the gen­eral fund in or­der to fund the county’s “char­i­ta­ble trust pro­gram.” Ap­par­ently $176,300 of the trans­ferred amount would be used for ad­min­is­tra­tive costs, pre­sum­ably the salary and of­fice space for the “char­ity czar.” The ar­ti­cle re­ports that the county has al­ready ap­proved $800,000 in grant money. In other words, our com­mis­sion­ers are whizzing away about $1 mil­lion of our tax dol­lars on a gov­ern­ment boon­dog­gle over which the cit­i­zens have no con­trol. This amount will con­tinue to grow like mad in fu­ture years and will be­come yet an­other slush fund for gen­er­at­ing votes for the com­mis­sion­ers who ap­prove this fis­cally ir­re­spon­si­ble con­duct.

With all of the above in mind, we as cit­i­zens have a right to de­ter­mine which non-prof­its we will sup­port and which we elect not to sup­port.

I close by sug­gest­ing that all cit­i­zens in Charles County de­mand the end to any use of tax money to sub­si­dize non-profit en­ti­ties and that our taxes be low­ered so we can make our own choice as to how to use dis­cre­tionary money that is ob­vi­ously not nec­es­sary to the op­er­a­tion of our lo­cal gov­ern­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.