Advocacy Updates on Charitable Giving Incentives, Visa Policies, Self-Insuring for Unemployment Benefits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2020

CONTACT: Johanna Tschebull

There is no shortage of policy updates as elected officials and federal agencies continue to consider and implement existing and new forms of COVID-19 relief. Congress is discussing the elements of the next large package of coronavirus pandemic relief that may take shape in the second half of July, while also working on the annual FY20 federal funding process. 

Ask Your Senator to Co-Sponsor Universal Charitable Deduction Bill 
Dance/USA joins the broader nonprofit sector in seeking increased incentives for charitable giving. Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have introduced the bipartisan Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act (S. 4032) to expand the current above-the-line deduction for charitable giving made available by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March. The provision would lift the current $300-per-tax-filing cap and making available, for tax years 2019 and 2020, an above-the-line deduction for charitable giving on federal income taxes valued at up to one-third of the standard deduction (around $4,000 for an individual filer and $8,000 for married joint filers). This giving incentive could spark new and increased donations from taxpayers that no longer itemize their tax returns, and is particularly important as the dance field increasingly relies on charitable giving, as earned revenue has steeply declined due to COVID-19 cancellations. 

Trump Administration Extends and Expands Certain Immigration Restrictions through 2020
This week the President announced an extension through December of his executive order from late April that had, at that time, suspended new immigration for 60 days. Effective immediately, individuals outside the United States who do not currently have an immigrant visa or official travel document other than a visa will be barred entry into the U.S. through December 31, 2020 "and may be continued as necessary" along with the possibility of "any modifications as may be necessary."

Additionally, restrictions are newly applied to the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant visa categories, but not to the O and P categories at this time, which are the classifications used for temporary guest artists. However, many arts administration positions are performed under the H-1B and would therefore be impacted. While there are few J-1 exchange programs remaining in the arts, this might still affect universities that can use these programs in conjunction with cultural exchanges, residencies and the like. The latest executive order does allow for consular discretion to grant exceptions in the cases of a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen, an alien who would be providing temporary labor or services essential to the United States food supply chain, and an alien "whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees," which would include those who are critical to diplomacy. The Artists from Abroad news section will stay up to date as more details or further modifications become available.

In April, Dance/USA signed on to a U.S. Performing Arts Sector Request for COVID-Related Flexibility from USCIS and Department of State  that seeks flexibility for visa issuance in light of the unique and devastating impact of the coronavirus on the arts. Dance/USA will continue to make the case to policymakers that support for international artistry is essential to U.S. arts employers, artists, and audiences, and we urge dance advocates to do the same.

Policy Updates for Nonprofits Self-Insuring for Unemployment Benefits 
Last week, the Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act was introduced by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) to help relieve burdens on dance organizations and other nonprofits that self-insure for unemployment benefits. The bill would address an administrative problem created through Department of Labor guidelines, which require nonprofits to pay 100% of their liability, before being reimbursed by the states for the 50% of coverage that was provided in the CARES Act. In both a House and a Senate letter to Congressional leadership, bipartisan support has been expressed for increasing the coverage to 100% for nonprofits in the next COVID-19 relief package. 

Dance/USA is working in coalition with the Performing Arts Alliance, the Cultural Advocacy Group, the Charitable Giving Coalition, and others to conduct federal advocacy during this crisis. We are grateful for the League of American Orchestras and our many coalition peers for their leadership.

About Dance/USA
Propelled by our belief that dance can inspire a more just and humane world, Dance/USA will amplify the power of dance to inform and inspire a nation where creativity and the field thrive.

Dance/USA is the national service organization for the professional dance field. Established in 1982, Dance/USA champions an inclusive and equitable dance field by leading, convening, advocating, and supporting individuals and organizations.  Dance/USA’s core programs are focused in the areas of engagement, advocacy, research, and preservation. Learn more about Dance/USA at danceusa.org.