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With painful 2020 ending, there's still time to help nonprofits
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With painful 2020 ending, there's still time to help nonprofits

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Chef Janos Wilder, left, owner of Carriage House, meets with Primavera staff member Paul LaValley while delivering meals. The Primavera Foundation is among numerous local charities that qualify for the Federal CARES Act $300 tax credit for donations made by Dec. 31.

As the curtain drops on 2020, many will breathe sighs of relief.

But before the year times out on Dec. 31, those who are charity-centric can use three words to make 2020 more memorable for their favorite nonprofits and/or for people feeling the harsh impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: Federal CARES Act.

Through legislation passed earlier this year, the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act implemented temporary tax provisions to encourage charitable giving for both corporations and individuals, including a new $300 donation for qualified charitable donations for individuals.

According to the IRS website, individual taxpayers can claim an “above-the-line” deduction of up to $300 for cash donations to charity in 2020, which means the deduction lowers both adjusted gross income and taxable income — translating into tax savings for those making donations to qualifying tax-exempt organizations.

Gifts may be for any charitable purpose and are not limited to gifts for COVID-19 relief efforts and must be made by Dec. 31.

For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov

A nonprofit called Global Response Management helps employ and supply the medical professionals who are also seeking asylum into the United States. For more than a year it has cared for thousands of refugees forced to wait in Mexico while their cases are considered by U.S. courts under a Trump administration policy –ironically named the Migrant Protection Protocol.

Additionally, for taxpayers who do itemize, the legislation suspended the usual deduction limit for cash gifts to public charities during the 2020 tax year. Previously, the deduction limit was 60% of adjusted gross income; during 2020, individuals can deduct cash contributions up to 100% of their AGI when made to qualifying organizations. This is subject to certain limits, so contact your tax advisor for more information.

For corporations, the new legislation increased tax deductions for cash contributions from 10% to 25% of the taxpayer’s taxable income during 2020.

“In allowing extra tax deductions, the federal government recognizes that philanthropy has a role in pulling communities out of this crisis; they have made changes to charitable giving to hopefully increase it due to the increased need,” said Clint Mabie, CEO of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, which has positioned itself as a leader in promoting charitable giving efforts for more than 40 years. During the past 10 months, through partnerships with local businesses, foundations and individuals, the foundation has distributed $3.3 million to more than 500 regional nonprofits through various COVID-19 response funds.

Additionally, the foundation offers nonprofits technical assistance through Catchafire and has developed a collaboration with the UA’s Eller College of Management to provide capacity-building support for nonprofits starting in 2021.

The new Federal CARES Act deductions can make a significant difference to nonprofits on multiple fronts, according to Mabie.

“The amount of people who are either out of work or don’t have a source of income and are facing eviction — we have never seen this before at this scale. The nonprofits that are supporting and helping in those areas have increased demand for their services and that need is going to continue,” he said.

Those on the ground at Primavera Foundation can attest to the unprecedented need due to the pandemic, according to JoAnn Salazar, chief philanthropy officer.

Salazar said that during 2019, only 25 affordable housing units were available for every 100 low-income individuals or families in need, and those statistics have grown more dire during the pandemic.

“The moratorium on evictions is set to expire at the end of January, and we are really worried about what will happen to folks who have been staving off eviction due to struggles from job losses, furloughs, lack of child care, sickness and so many other factors related to the pandemic and economic crisis. There could be a tsunami of evictions with people finding nowhere to live,” said Salazar.

She said Primavera Foundation, which provides programs that support pathways out of poverty, continues to focus on housing issues and that contributions from the public can help those in critical need.

She said that the above-the-line tax deduction in the CARES Act makes it beneficial for people who do not itemize on their taxes and who may not have previously considered year-end contributions for tax purposes.

“Many people don’t itemize, and the CARES Act is a very nice encouragement for folks to make a donation and take a year-end tax deduction. Basically, this allows you make a $300 investment in the community while allowing you to take it as deduction from your income taxes. Who wouldn’t want to help someone in the community, rather than pay taxes to the IRS? If you can help someone in need in your community, that is a win-win for everyone,” Salazar said.

Salazar said many people have generously donated stimulus checks.

“They have said, ‘Other people need this more than I do, and we know you can put it to good use with them,’” said Salazar.

That opportunity for win-win extends to all 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, including those that support arts and culture such as the Fox Tucson Theatre.

The Fox, which offered more than 150 film screenings, concerts, community gathering and special events annually pre-COVID, has lost roughly $2.2 million in projected revenue since it closed its doors March 12.

In addition to the hit to the historic venue, the pandemic has had a huge impact on the millions of people nationwide who make their living from jobs associated with the music and performing arts industries, according to Bonnie Schock, executive director of the Fox.

“On a personal level, so many people we know are out of work. So many artists, technicians and skilled laborers who understand lighting, sound and all the things that intersect on stage behind the scenes have been devastated,” said Schock.

To that end, the Fox has partnered with downtown businesses and is hosting a community food drive and crowdsourcing event to benefit Musically Fed, which combats food insecurity among artists and production workers, along with Khris Dodge Entertainment.

Donations can be accepted online at e.givesmart.com/events/jDo and supporters are encouraged to visit the site to enjoy inspirational seasonal videos.

“The arts and culture are multipliers: They are quality-of-life boosters and economic multipliers, along with the restaurants and other businesses in downtown that rely on one another to create vibrant ecosystems of opportunity. We want to make sure we are sustaining these organizations for a comeback since they are a vital part of that ecosystem, and we don’t want to lose them,” Schock said.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at

ninch2@comcast.net

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