|Program Highlights from 11/14/11|
By: Steve Spry
Monday night we attended the annual White Elephant Sale, this Club’s largest fund raiser of the year. The proceeds go to benefit the Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center to assist them in their many programs designed to educate, stimulate and build confidence in individuals needing the service so that they can enter the job force and become productive members of our society. From shrimp boils, to crawfish boils, a “Las Vegas Night”, the “World Championship Domino Tournament”, to poker night and just mandatory donations with no activity, there has always been some fund raiser in every club to which I belonged. Each club had an annual goal established to outdo the previous year’s contributions. Jack Cook challenged our club to raise $60,000 at our event. We’ll have to await the figures to see if it was attained.
I did some statistic gathering on the internet over the past weekend. According to Diana Aviv, the head of the Independent Sector which lobbies on behalf of charities and non-profits, there are currently 1 million legitimate charities in the U. S. employing nearly 12 million full time workers. Charity Navigator.org groups charities that they have evaluated in ten major categories. They are “Animals” with 382 charities; “Arts, Culture, and Humanities” – 680; “Education’ – 571; “Environment” – 318; “Health” – 572; “Human Service” -1,212; “International” – 505; “Public Benefit” – 873; and “Religion” – 327 charities. Each charity evaluated is rated 1-4 stars depending upon their performance and record with 4 stars being the best rating. Charity Navigator.org apologizes that all 1,000,000 charities are not on their site, there are too many for them to evaluate and post.
WTVY, the CBS affiliate in Dothan, reported November 15 that charitable giving is down 7% here since 2008. Even so, the Giving USA Foundation estimated that in 2009, more than $300 billion was donated by corporations, individuals and foundations to charitable organizations; a lot of money by anyone’s standards. A proposal by President Obama to reduce the amount of allowable tax deductions from 35% to 28% on those individuals earning $200,000 or more and married couples earning $250,000 or more in 2013 may impact the amount of annual giving. There are reasons President Obama wants to lower the cap on charitable deductions for the wealthy. Leonard Birman, a professor at Syracuse University estimates that the federal government lost $49 billion dollars of tax revenue in 2011 due to the higher 35% cap presently allowed by law. The Chronicle of Philanthropy says the proposed $447 billion Jobs Bill now before Congress would be financed mainly by limiting the percentage of income wealthy donors could write off. The State of Alabama recently reported that we citizens pay the least income taxes in all the Union; a fact that the State may not afford to continue. Governments are not the only entities needing more of our money. Churches, too, rely upon charitable giving in the form of tithing. Church leaders remind us that the top 10% from our salary should be given to them. Recently churches have seen the donations in their collection plates dwindle.
So how will charities fare in 2013 when the tax change is scheduled to take effect? According to a study prepared by Bank of America and the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University, the Arts will suffer the most since 70% of the wealthiest Americans, those with the most disposable income, tend to support the Arts while only 8% of the general population does. Still, how will charities in general fare with taxes on the rise? According to Wikpedia.com the 2005 data shows that the U. S. Corporate Tax Rate is 38% one of the highest in the world; Individual Tax Rates are between 0-35% to the federal government and 0-10.55% to the state in which we live; a 2.9% - 15.3% Progressive Payroll Tax; and 0-10.25% Value Added (VAT) or Sales Tax on money we spend. Think that’s bad? Sweden, with reportedly the highest taxes in the world, assesses its citizens between 28.87%-59.09% Individual tax; 31.42% Payroll Tax; and a 25% VAT AND the Swedish Tax Agency (their equivalent to our IRS) also assesses a “Church Tax” to members of the Church of Sweden. So you would think that with all that tax in Sweden there would be no charities as the government provides for all their needs, Right? Nope! Clear Blue.com will sell you a list of 2,500 Swedish charities. Yet, compared to the U.S., with its 1,000,000 charities, Sweden seems to do comparatively well only having 2,500. Sure, Sweden has about 3% of the population that the U.S. has and, yet at 2,500 far less than 1% of the total estimated legitimate charities that are in the U. S. The U. S. has one legitimate charity for every 307 persons in its total population of 307,006,550 (US Census Bureau July 2009 population figures). Sweden, by comparison, has one charity for every 3,760 of its citizens. I read a suggestion somewhere on the Internet that if the federal government would take the $447 billion in the proposed Jobs Bill and divide it among every person in the U. S. (307 million) we’d all get $14.5 million. I think that person may be on to something; that it might end poverty in a hurry. It would also help the federal government since they would take 50% of it back in taxes. How did we end up with so many legitimate charities anyway? According to U. S.Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 2011 the National Unemployment Rate was 9.1%; Alabama’s was 9.8% and Dothan was 9%. Also, according to that federal department, 184,493 workers were laid off nationwide in the Third Quarter of 2011.
So, with all these taxes and with so many charities, and pay increases never matching inflation, how can those of us still with jobs afford to continue supporting those in need especially if the federal government lowers the charitable deduction cap on giving? How can we possibly make a difference with so many needy charities? The solutions to our economic strife are political ones and this is not a political forum. Nor would it immediately help those in our society who are truly in need. Giving has to come from your heart and not as a measure of potential income tax breaks. One does what one can. We all do what we can. One person interviewed by the Houston Chronicle said it best when asked what effect the lower 28% cap would have on his giving, “I give because I want to give. It makes me feel good about myself. If the government will give me a tax break for doing so, so be it but that’s not the reason I give.”
|Dothan Rotary Club Officers and Directors|
By: Hal Edwards
Names of Elected Officers and Directors for the 2012-2013 Year
Visit DothanRotary.com for more info...
11/21/2011 - Upcoming Event
Larry Wells of the Alabama Experimental Station in Headland will introduce Dr. Bill Batchelor, Dean of Agriculture Auburn University & Director of Alabama Experimental Station in Headland
Ambassadors:Paul LeBeau and Phillip Tidwell
Camp ASCCA Drawing:Ken Long and Chris Mitchell
11/28/2011 - Upcoming Event
Speakers:Judge Main, Alabama Supreme Court Justice;
Judge Joiner, Criminal Appeals Court; Judge Burke, Criminal Appeals Court; "The Role of the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals within the Alabama Judicial System"
Ambassadors:Terry Duffie and Charles Fails
Camp ASCCA Drawing:Bill Durden and Jansen Tidmore
12/05/2011 - Upcoming Event
Program: John Brown
Speaker:Mary Paulk from the Department of Human Resources "Foster Care System"
Ambassadors:Bill Durden and Pat Costello
Camp ASCCA Tickets and Drawing:Jeff Collins and Joe Sette
12/12/2011 - Upcoming Event
Rotarians will serve lunches to the Senior Citizens at the Civic Center.
Also, please remember to bring your gifts for the Foster Children's Project.
By: Paul LeBeau
Proposed by: Rob Goldsmith
Education: Connecticut College; George Washington Law School; Bachelors in History and Government, JD
Spouse: Julie Bartholomae
Place of worship: Temple Emanuel
By: Bill Young
Classification: Wholesale Industrial Equipment
Occupation: Fluid Engineering, Inc.
Job Title: Sales Engineer
Education: University Southern Mississippi
Spouse: Amy Glass Young
Children: Sons, Chase and Mason
Place of worship: Methodist
Hobbies: Resurrection of vintage audio equipment, racing BMX
Bill Young will be eligible for membership on 11/28/2011 if no objections are recived.
By: Gil Stiff
Proposed by: Steve Stokes
Classification: Risk Management Training
Occupation: TSC Associates LLC
Job Title: VP - Owner
Education: Columbus College, Columbus GA; Seminole CC Lake Mary FL
Spouse: Judy Shimoda Stiff
Children: Daughters, Debra Jones, Tomi Donohoe; Sons, Dwayne and Darren Stiff; T C and Josh Hallford
Place of worship: Covenant United Methodist Church
Hobbies: Golf, Photography
Gil Stiff will be eligible for membership on 11/28/2011 if no objections are recived.
Dec-14...Gene Ragan, Bill Shealy, R. Mark Smith
Nov-30...Double R Moore
Dec-11...Sam Casey, Suzanne Davis
Dec-14...Charles Coggins, Samuel Prim