Defend donor privacy by commenting on proposed federal regulations today!

I apologize for the late notice, but we could really use some help…today. It will take just a few moments of yUour time. Simply put, the IRS and the Treasury Department are proposing regulations to “allow” non-profits to collect the Social Security numbers of donors who give more than $250. Read more here. Unfortunately, the comment deadline closes today, December 16. The good news is that the comment process is very simple and can be accessed here and comments can be submitted online.

If you are inclined to comment, but don’t know what to say, the Rio Grande Foundation’s submitted comments are below. Feel free to borrow.

CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-138344-13)
Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service
POB 7604, Ben Franklin Station,
Washington, DC 20044

To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of my organization, the Rio Grande Foundation, a non-profit organization organized under 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Service Code, I write to express opposition to proposed regulation: REG-138344-13.

The proposed regulation from the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service would permit, but not require, charities to file a new information return with the IRS (in addition to Form 990) by February 28 every year to substantiate contributions of more than $250 in value. The new return would require the charity to collect the donor’s name, address, and Social Security number or other taxpayer identification number.

The stated purpose of this regulation is to “simplify” current law requiring individuals and organizations claiming a charitable deduction for contributions of $250 or more to obtain a written acknowledgement from the charitable nonprofit receiving the donation, while providing the IRS with an alternative means to substantiate charitable contribution deductions.

Our concerns over this regulation are based on the following:

  • Current law is working. There is no widespread initiative on the part of either charities or donors seeking change;
  • The proposed change increases the administrative burden on charities that will continue to acknowledge gifts of all sizes from donors as a function of good stewardship while additionally completing an unnecessary return for the government;
  • The IRS is violating its own advice to taxpayers about never giving out their Social Security numbers unless “absolutely necessary;”
  • Given the danger of identity theft, charities themselves are understandably reluctant to collect and store donors’ Social Security numbers, and are justifiably concerned that the suggestion of such disclosure will significantly reduce charitable donations.
  • The fact that the proposed rule is voluntary at the moment provides little assurance that it will not become mandatory in the future.

This is a simple issue and thus our response is quite simple. Non-profits, especially small ones like mine with an annual budget of less than $300,000, don’t need additional regulations.