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Document Type: Article/Economic Perspective

1-10 of 191     Back to Types Next>>


A Method for Measuring and Partially Testing "Charitability", 3 of 3 parts: Some Complexities (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

In this series so far, I have suggested that it is possible to test "charitability" — at least in terms of transfers of resources from some class of donors to some class of recipients — by using a balance sheet approach to identifying how those donors and recipients match up. After all, they should be equal in size. Now I will examine two additional complications — past charitable contributions and transfers from government—and then conclude by reexamining some of the objections to the approach I have suggested.

Published: 08/06/07
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A Method for Measuring and Partially Testing "Charitability", Second of Three Parts: Applying the Tool (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

All charities claim to be performing some good for others or for society. These "outputs" require inputs of charitable resources. Nongovernmental sources can be divided broadly into two major categories: financial or real capital, and volunteer labor. These contributions of money or property and time are typically tax favored. This article examines how the balance sheet exercise matching uses and sources of charitable "resources" can serve as a cross-check for how charitable an organization is.

Published: 07/30/07
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A Method for Measuring and Partially Testing "Charitability", First of Three Parts : Balancing Uses and Sources of Charitable Funds (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

How charitable are charities? Can a charity that provides education or healthcare and has no profits be "noncharitable"? The Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees think those questions are so important that they have been examining whether and when nonprofit hospitals deserve tax exemption. Many state and local governments have done likewise. And apart from any possible action of the IRS or Congress or state legislatures, Independent Sector and other institutions serving and monitoring charities have been giving increased attention to how charities can more effectively achieve their charitable purposes. Even if there were no outside pressures, the community of consultants and advisers to charities would seek to find ways to measure success by more than sustainable budgets or outputs such as meals served or babies delivered. All those efforts at one level or the other raise the important and sensitive issue of measurement. I contend that there is one powerful tool that could be used by many nonprofit organizations to try to more effectively measure — at least in one important respect — whether they are "charitable" and, to some degree, the extent of their charitability. The measurement tool I suggest charities use is nothing more than the accountant’s most powerful tool: the balance sheet. However, the balancing exercise I am recommending goes beyond the traditional balancing of assets and liabilities and to what I will call the uses and sources of resources intended to achieve private charitable transfers.

Published: 07/23/07
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Restoring Professionalism to Professions (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

At a recent Tax Analysts session on the administration of the tax laws for large and midsize businesses, former IRS Commissioner Larry Gibbs spoke out, as he has done frequently, on the importance of professionalism. His concerns relate to the fundamental issue of whether we can count on professionals—largely accountants and lawyers—to maintain a viable tax system through their allegiance to high professional standards. This article discusses the importance these high professional standards and encourages readers to take concerns about a decline in professionalism seriously.

Published: 04/30/07
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Fixing the AMT by Raising Tax Rates (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee Chair Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., recently told reporters that fixing the alternative minimum tax was likely to involve increases in statutory tax rates rather than cutting back on preferences in the tax code. He said the former was "probably more realistic." Or is it? Raising rates at first seems easier than dealing with preferences that people want to keep. However, the simple fact is that real reform involves winners and losers. The only way to avoid that problem is to keep the status quo. But the status quo isn't tenable either: Taxpayers are increasingly dissatisfied with an AMT that continually raises their tax burdens, and in fairly arbitrary ways.

Published: 04/09/07
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Prescribing Better Under Bush's Health Plan (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

The nation spends more than $250 billion annually on tax incentives for workers to buy health insurance, and the cost is rising fast. Nonetheless, 47 million people lack coverage. By any standard, we aren't getting our money's worth. This article discusses President Bush's proposed health plan, which would give everyone the same income tax deduction as long as they purchased health insurance, and the potential problems with this policy. It suggests that a properly designed voucher is a better vehicle for correcting the existing problems with health insurance.

Published: 01/31/07
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IT Problems at IRS and Medicare: More to Come? (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

Already in 2006 alone, the IRS has potentially lost billions of dollars in revenue by failing to come up with a computer program that would replace one that identified returns likely to be fraudulently filed, while Medicare and Social Security have mistakenly sent refunds to 230,000 people who signed up for a prescription drug plan under the new Part D of Medicare. It is likely that these stories are symptoms of a much more serious government problem in hiring and retaining top-notch people who keep up with new technology, its uses, and its limitations.

Published: 10/09/06
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Can We Buy Our Way to Health Reform? (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

No issue has stumped policymakers more than how to provide healthcare to its citizens in an efficient and fair manner. Every recent health "fix" has involved trying to buy health reform by devoting even more dollars to it. In simply throwing more money into the system, they add to, rather than subtract from, the fundamental problem that someone, somewhere, somehow has to decide what health spending is worthwhile and what is not.

Published: 06/12/06
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Paulsonibilities (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

When President Bush announced his appointment of Henry Paulson of Goldman Sachs as Treasury Secretary, the press quickly popped the obvious question to former Treasury officials like me: "Why would he want to be secretary, especially this late in a president's tenure?"

Published: 06/05/06
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Reform and Equal Justice (Article/Economic Perspective)
C. Eugene Steuerle

Anyone familiar with tax and expenditure legislation knows full well that interest groups constantly win special favors from federal and state legislators. For a long time I have struggled with how to make better use of the principle of equal justice to restrain or eliminate bad policy. Here are a few thoughts to get the conversation started.

Published: 04/17/06
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