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The Network Needs Your Help‏

NCWN logoIf you’re a loyal reader of this blog, then the Network has probably helped you in some definite, demonstrable way: You found an agent or publisher through our Manuscript Mart. Our critiquing service gave your manuscript the final polish it needed to find a publisher. You won one of our writing contests, or one that you learned about through the Network. A workshop gave you the encouragement and inspiration you needed to keep writing. A conference introduced you to the community you needed.

That means that you have a story to tell about the Network, and stories have power.

If you’re reading this blog, then you’ve also demonstrated an ongoing support for the Network and its mission, and I need to ask you to lend that support once again.

I hope you’ve seen the Calls to Action we’ve posted on our blog and Facebook page this week. To sum up, the North Carolina General Assembly is considering—and will soon vote on—a number of tax-reform proposals that could cripple nonprofits, including the Network. These proposals include stripping nonprofits’ sales tax exemptions; requiring nonprofits to collect and report sales tax on member dues and program fees; and ending the income tax deduction for charitable donations.

Please take a few minutes today to contact your state legislators, especially your state senator. Tell them that you are one of their constituents, and tell them your story of what the North Carolina Writers’ Network has meant to you. Tell them your story of what arts and culture nonprofits do, all the time, for North Carolinians, and tell them that these tax-reform proposals could take all that away.

You can find your legislators and their contact information here: http://www.ncleg.net/representation/WhoRepresentsMe.aspx

Here are the talking points provided by our advocacy groups, ARTS North Carolina and the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits:

I am concerned that the Senate’s tax reform proposal phases out the sales tax refund allowed to nonprofit organizations. I am equally concerned that some proposals suggest that nonprofit organizations collect and pay 6.5% sales tax on their admissions and performances, registrations to classes and events, and memberships. I ask that (name of Senator or Representative) NOT support any proposal that includes these two provisions.

I understand and support tax reform. As a citizen of North Carolina, I expect to be impacted by tax reform.

However, nonprofit organizations should not be penalized in the tax reform process as suggested in the Senate’s proposal introduced last week.

Any tax proposal should be revenue neutral. The Senate proposal would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from our current budget, which will likely mean additional and debilitating cuts to nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofit organizations will pay their fair share in tax reform if the sales tax is applied to a broader array of services such as legal and accounting fees. Any additional impact on nonprofit organizations such as eliminating sales tax refunds or mandating nonprofits to charge sales tax on their programs is punitive.

And below, you’ll find a copy of the letter I’ve sent to my legislators. Please feel free to copy and paste as you see fit, but please be sure to add your own story. Please feel free, as well, to forward this blog link to anyone else you know who values the Network, or another of North Carolina’s nonprofit organizations.

Our legislators do listen to their constituents, but only when we make our voices heard. Please make your voice heard today. Thank you.

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Dear Senator:

On behalf of the nearly 1,200 members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, I am writing today to express our concern about some of the tax-reform proposals now under consideration in the N.C. General Assembly, and the crippling effect that those proposals would have on North Carolina’s nonprofits.

Founded in 1985, the North Carolina Writers’ Network educates, connects, and promotes writers across the state, from novices to bestselling, award-winning authors. We plan with care, operate with discipline, and spend only what is necessary. We must be doing something right: Our membership has grown by 70% since 2008, and the North Carolina Arts Council refers to us as a model for how statewide service organizations should operate.

Phasing out the sales tax refund, requiring nonprofits to collect sales tax on program and membership fees, or eliminating the charitable deduction, could open a $37,000 hole in our already-tight operating budget. It would drain our reserves in less than five years, especially if coupled with more reductions in state funding for the arts. The costs added to member dues and program registrations would drive away members and participants. The administrative burden on our efficient, three-person staff would increase drastically. These proposals, if enacted into law, would jeopardize the financial stability we worked hard to achieve, and the statewide service we work hard to provide.

Nonprofits exist to meet the needs that the market cannot or should not, particularly in the arts and humanities. Generations of North Carolinians have built the cultural heritage we enjoy; these tax-reform proposals could rob that heritage from generations to come. We call North Carolina “the Writingest State,” the state that best exercises and honors the power of language. The Network’s mission is to keep it that way, but we may not be able to do so if these proposals become law.

While we understand the need for tax reform, we maintain that nonprofits such as the North Carolina Writers’ Network should not be penalized in the process. We urge you not to support any proposal that phases out nonprofits’ sales-tax refund, or requires collection of sales tax on member dues or program fees.

Sincerely,

Ed Southern
Executive Director
North Carolina Writers’ Network
P.O. Box 21591
Winston-Salem, NC 27120
336.293.8844

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