As you might have guessed, there is a lot happening at the Capitol. To help you understand how all of this affects our day-to-day lives, we’ve gathered a quick overview of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations, Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization, and charitable tax issues.
This information will keep you in the know about what is happening with governmental activities that affect the lives of older adults. We’ve also included step you can take to make your voice heard.
Moving Forward with FY 2020 Appropriations
As the House of Representatives began debate last week on a nearly $985 billion four-bill discretionary spending package (H.R. 2740), the FY 2020 appropriations process continues to move forward. The spending package combines four of the 12 appropriations bills that Congress is responsible for. These bills include Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Debates will continue this week, followed by a final vote on the entire spending package.
Meals on Wheels
The appropriations bill would provide $1 billion in funding for the OAA Nutrition Program, an increase of $93 million. The total level of funding for the Congregate, Home-Delivered and Nutrition Services Incentive Programs is a big achievement. However, it could be challenging to keep in the final appropriations package. That is why it’s critical to continue to advocate for programs that support senior nutrition.
Ways You Can Advocate
Every person’s voice matters when it comes to decisions from Capitol Hill. Let your voice be heard by writing to your representatives.
You can use this email form provided by Meals on Wheels America to urge your Members of Congress to support the proposed increase in funding for the OAA Nutrition Program, bringing total FY 2020 funding to $1 billion. It only takes five minutes or less! Email Form
The Need to Raise the Budget Caps
There is a lot of buzz about the need for Congress to come to an agreement on budget caps, or spending limits, for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs, such as OAA nutrition services and supports, for there to be an opportunity to increase funding.
Without a deal to raise the budget caps, both a government shutdown and/or triggering of an automatic across-the-board spending cut of nearly 10% to discretionary programs are actual threats. By continuing to talk to your Members of Congress about this issue and why it remains important to programs that help our community’s most vulnerable, you can make a difference.
An Update on the Older Americans Act Reauthorization
Key Senate Committees have been working to develop a bipartisan Older Americans Act Reauthorization Bill. Recently, they have released a “discussion draft” for comment and review. Meals on Wheels America is responding to the bill to make sure the needs of the senior nutrition network are adequately represented in any final legislation based on the input they have already received from the public.
The goal in the Senate is to pass a reauthorization bill by unanimous consent. This means that no Senator has any objection to the bill.
Tax Legislation and Charitable Giving
There has also been action on issues related to tax legislation and charitable giving. Here are a few key points.
Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) on Transportation Benefits – Meals on Wheels America is continuing to advocate for the repeal of the UBIT on the value of qualified employee transportation benefits for tax-exempt charitable organizations. This includes the majority of Meals on Wheels programs. The UBIT takes valuable dollars away from already strained resources. To help Meals on Wheels learn more about how the tax impacts your nonprofit and convince Congress that the tax on nonprofit transportation benefits must be repealed, please take a few minutes to complete this short questionnaire.
Nonprofit Relief Act of 2019 – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Majority Whip James Clyburn plan to introduce the Nonprofit Relief Act of 2019 in the House. Some of the key requirements of this legislation would remove a tax penalty that makes volunteer mileage reimbursements above 14 cents per mile taxable income for volunteer drivers, extends paid leave tax credit to tax-exempt organizations, and repeals a section of the tax code that prevents nonprofits from aggregating profits and losses of all unrelated business.
DELIVER Act – Meals on Wheels America has been moving forward with their work to promote the DELIVER (Delivering Elderly Lunches and Increasing Volunteer Engagement) Act. If it passes, this legislation would increase the standard charitable mileage tax deduction rate for delivery of meals to elderly, disabled, frail and at-risk individuals from 14 cents per mile to match the standard business rate of 58 cents per mile.
Advocacy for the Older Americans Act
Grassroots lobbying refers to attempts to influence the law by changing the opinion of the public with respect and encouragement. This means that citizens drive the movement for change by using their collective voices.
Supporting legislation for the Older Americans Act helps seniors across the nation receive the services they need to age in place.
Make sure your voice is heard by contacting your members of Congress today!