We must not tax charities
I am very dismayed by two of your recent editorials regarding the tax and funding choices going on in Montpelier. Particularly in the way you discuss break-open tickets as a “shady” operation within our state and also now you seemingly dismiss taxing them as “an optional purchase that has little redeeming value.” You have about as much understanding of this charitable fundraising revenue source as our governor does and also some others in Montpelier.
How do you think 501(c)3’s in our community get the bulk of their charitable funding?
Let me talk you through some quick math. The 10 percent tax that the governor is requesting is on the total sale of the box of tickets not on the net revenue of the box. So if a box of these break-open tickets is sold (average 2,500 tickets per box) and the net revenue after paying winners is $400, then the governor is taking $250 (10 percent of $2,500) of that and leaving the charity with only $150, so the result is a 60 percent tax. That is incredible.
At the Barre Elks we give out every cent in charitable donations from break-open tickets that we take in. We do not use this money to put heating oil in the tank of the lodge or to pay the GMP bill. We give it all to charity. Things like Project Graduation, the Dictionary Program, scholarships for our kids. Helping out Project Independence, the local Food Bank, and supporting our veterans. Also, helping to build new playgrounds like the field up off from Farrell Street. The Barre Elks was a major financial contributor. We also have our state project, Silver Towers located in Ripton. This was one of the first camps and few remaining camps in the country that helps mentally and physically handicapped people in Vermont between the ages of 7 and 70 years old. There are several more programs that not only the Elks help but also the American Legion, VFW, Knights of Columbus, Canadian Club, Mutuo, Moose Club and several churches in the area.
If the governor takes this money from these charities to pay for his own pet charities, please tell me who is going to take care of these programs in our own community? This is a very dangerous game the governor is playing with our cities and towns. Especially, when he makes comments like “We say it’s $17 million and they say its $6 million ... Let’s just tax it and find out” Really? Or when the Governor on VPR states that Vermont lottery tickets are taxed. What? I suppose you could call that a 100 percent tax, right, because it all goes to the state? I know of no additional taxes when purchasing a lottery ticket. Does anyone?
The DLC argues on behalf of the governor that the “for-profit” bars are not being true in turning over their proceeds to charities. I don’t know if they are or aren’t, but that seems like a regulation issue not a tax issue. I know you write editorials, but that does not excuse the Times Argus/Rutland Herald from doing your homework on this issue. Bottom line is that Governor Shumlin wants to tax charities, and I don’t know about you or our citizens, but whether you are a Democrat, independent or Republican that is just simply wrong. They understood this argument in the House of Representatives, and that is why they did not support it. Now we need to send this message loud and clear to our senators: Do not tax charities.