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This is an archived post from our old blog. It's here for the sake of posterity (and to keep the search engines happy). Our new blog can be found at http://blog.fracturedatlas.org.

Weigh In Against Proposed IRS Changes to Donor Documentation that Would Significantly Burden the Nonprofit Sector

Our Robert W. Deutsch Arts & Technology Policy Fellow has the details of the negative financial and cybersecurity implications of proposed changes at the IRS that would dramatically complicate the way nonprofits accept gifts from donors. Questions? Reach out to Courtney by email at courtney.duffy@fracturedatlas.org or on Twitter @cduffy90.

I have good news and bad news to share.

The bad news: There are some proposed changes to the way nonprofits document and regulate donations from donors that would have a profoundly negative impact on the arts community.

The good news: There’s still time to do something about it. In fact, it’s vital that we unite as a community and do something about it.

Give me the lowdown.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has proposed new regulations that would compel nonprofits like Fractured Atlas - and many of our member organizations - to collect Social Security numbers (SSN) or taxpayer identification numbers (TIN) from donors to substantiate gifts above $250.

Say what?!

Our thoughts exactly.

Tell me more.

Currently, the IRS requires nonprofits to substantiate gifts of $250 or more by providing written documentation to donors stating the amount of the gift. Many arts organizations already have a fully functional process in place. Although this additional proposed process would technically be voluntary, the prospect of giving up SSNs or TINs would discourage many donors from giving gifts of more than $250 - or giving at all.

That sounds like a logistical nightmare.

It would be. Not to mention the technological and security headaches that would arise. Collecting SSNs and TINs would impose significant legal requirements on arts organizations. The responsibility of protecting such sensitive donor data would be a sizeable (and expensive!) burden for many of them, forcing them to either pony up thousands of dollars to securely store it, or fail to do so and risk leaving it exposed. A forced choice between financial security and cybersecurity is not a healthy one for any organization to have to make.

What is Fractured Atlas doing about it?

Our first priority is to inform and engage you, our members, many of whom would be impacted by this measure, so that you will consider speaking out against the proposal. These possible changes fly directly in the face of our mission to eliminate barriers to artistic expression.

We’re a member of the Performing Arts Alliance (PAA), a national coalition of arts services organizations of which you, as a Fractured Atlas member, are a member, as well. PAA has set up a handy website where comments can be submitted and shared with the IRS directly.

How can I help?

You can submit a comment detailing how these changes would negatively impact your organization by the midnight deadline on Wednesday, December 16. Nonprofits from all sorts of industries are making their voices heard at the IRS and the arts community ought to do the same. And, of course, you can help by sharing details of this opportunity with colleagues, family and friends, appealing to them to stand with us against these potential regulations which would cripple so many organizations.

Tell me again: When was that very important deadline for submitting comments to the IRS?

Wednesday, December 16 at midnight.

Questions about the proposed changes at the IRS and what you can do to make your voice heard? Reach out to Courtney by email at courtney.duffy@fracturedatlas.org or on Twitter @cduffy90.