Thursday, March 04, 2010

We saw it coming.

I can't remember if the post was one of those labeled "futurewatch" or not, but I know at some point last year it was mentioned that tax-exempt status for schools and charities would be in danger when municipalities started getting desperate.

They're now starting to get desperate for income.

And this will be a complete disaster for the already terrible tuition crisis, class.

New York Times Online
States Move to Revoke Charities’ Tax Exemptions
Published: February 27, 2010

Faced with steep declines in tax revenue, an increasing number of states and localities are considering eliminating various tax exemptions for nonprofit groups...

...In most cases, churches would be exempt from the tax measures, but all other nonprofit groups, including private schools and colleges, would be affected.

City and state officials say they have no choice.

“We’re having to look at the public services nonprofits use and how we can adequately cover those costs,” said Matt Greller, executive director of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. “We can’t give them away for free any longer.”

...“Each piece of property they buy becomes untaxable, which means everyone else has to pay more in property taxes just to maintain service levels.”

Some states, according to the article, are considering requiring sales taxes to be applied to donations to charities. This would also include tuition at private schools, obviously - not to mention ordinary donations to shuls, dayschools and charities.

The hikes in tuition this would require will be more than most families can swallow at this time, to say the least. Such a measure would be a disaster for any religious communities that cannot stomach the idea of public school education for their children.

It will also cut heavily into each charity's ability to actually help people at the worst possible time to do so, as the article also points out. The last thing people need is a tax on the assistance they receive when they have to turn to a charity for help, but that is not an impossibility at this point. As more and more people are turned away from nonprofits, they will swamp government offices, also - ultimately meaning they receive less or don't receive anything at all, depending on whether there are simply more hands in an already overcrowded pot or whether it's first come, first serve and the people at the end of the line have no hope of actually getting anything. Either way it's not going to be pretty, class.

It will be easier for other religions to deal with the school problem, since in theory there are sufficient "sunday school" classrooms in most cities to hold dayschool classes in so that the taxable school buildings could be sold off - and this would probably work for communities with large Reform and Conservative populations. But the UO and Chereidi communities are going to be hit particularly hard, as they rely on dayschools for kid's Judaic studies and for the most part have no "sunday school" classrooms, or very few. There's not much they can do, and more and more women will be forced to drop out of the workforce and participate in homeschool cooperatives (or individual homeschooling) at a time when the men in many such communities have little if any education or skills that will provide them with gainful employment.

What a mess - but we knew, or should have known, it was coming. What did we do to prepare? Hmmmm. Honestly, nothing.

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