Vancouver, Washington Proposal to Expand Business Fees on Charities

The Vancouver City Council is considering a proposal to expand the city’s business license fee and employee surcharge to 501(c)(3) charities with 20 or more employees. The purpose of the expansion of the fees is to fund the Vancouver Police Department staff plan through 2020.

While AFP is sensitive to funding challenges for the city, enacting such taxes on charitable organizations sets bad legislative precedents and takes away revenue and resources from programs and services that benefit the Vancouver community.

AFP is asking members in the AFP Oregon and Southwestern Washington Chapter to email the Mayor and City Council and urge them to oppose the proposal. Email addresses for the Mayor and City Council members are below, as is a sample email. We encourage you to personalize the email message.

NOTE: The City Council is expected to take up this measure during its meeting on Monday, August 10. Your action is needed urgently!

Mayor Anne

Councilmember Bart

Councilmember Bill Turlay:

Councilmember Alishia

Councilmember Ty Stober:

Councilmember Linda

Councilmember Laurie

Dear Mayor McEnerny-Ogle and the Vancouver City Council:

Please reconsider your proposal to expand the business license fee and employee surcharge to apply to certain nonprofit organizations.

Balancing budget concerns for our city is always challenging, but it should not be done on the backs of nonprofits that serve so many members of our community every day.

Charitable organization provide critical community services covering a wide array of programs and issues. To extract taxes from charities would decrease the amount of services and programs that they can provide. In addition, charities are required by law to direct the surplus of any money collected but not used in operating expenses back into the community in the form of services or grants.

Contrary to popular belief, charities also pay taxes as employers, such as Social Security and Medicare taxes. Employee salaries are subject to income and Social Security taxes. Additionally, employees pay sales tax on their purchases, and nonprofit organizations pay sales tax on purchases.

While the proposed fees affect only organizations with 20 or more employees, those are organizations that have significant impact on our city, ranging from education and social services to arts and culture and the environment. Many of these charities work on issues that directly or indirectly affect crime and policing—the stated reason for this proposal—which means the fees are actually hurting programs that can help reduce the need for policing.

Please reconsider your proposal and support the work of nonprofits throughout our city. Thank you for your consideration.

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