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Congress mulls bills as nonprofits hit
High gasoline prices are not crunching just businesses and individuals. They also taking their toll on nonprofits that rely on volunteer drivers. Senate bill would ease that burden by increasing the individual mileage reimbursement rate volunteers can file on their tax returns. The legislation, introduced Aug. 1 and known as the GIVE Act, would increase the reimbursement rate from 14 cents per mile to 70 percent of the standard business mileage rate currently 58.5 cents or 41 cents. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D Pikesville) has also co sponsored a bill, introduced in July, that would allow the Treasury secretary to determine the volunteer reimbursement rate.
continue to feel the pain in their wallet every time they fill up their gas tank, but this has not diminished our volunteer spirit or desire to help others, Cardin said in a press release. has a responsibility to act so that the IRS can increase mileage rates for charitable volunteers to reflect our current economic climate. Sullam, press secretary for Cardin, said Cardin believes his bill allows for more flexibility than the more recent bill, but said having so many bills out there increases the issue visibility, which can only be a good thing.
a lot of interest in this. The support seems to be building, Sullam said.
Nationally, 58 percent of Meals on Wheels programs that responded to a program study said they lost volunteers because of high gas prices, according to the nonprofit Web site. The nonprofit provides home delivered meals services to people in need.
Beth Hess, director of communications for the Center for Nonprofit Advancement in Washington, said the volunteer reimbursement rate has not changed significantly since 1997, although it was raised temporarily to 45 cents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The center, along with more than 100 national nonprofits, is endorsing the GIVE Act.
need to get the word out since we don have much time before the session ends, Hess said.
Kerri Wojciechowski, associate director for community relations for Baltimore House of Ruth Maryland, said the nonprofit believes a rate change could encourage the involvement of people who have always considered volunteering but held back because of rising gas costs. The House of Ruth provides support to survivors of domestic violence.
are extremely critical to the House of Ruth Maryland and our staff ability to provide victims with the services necessary to rebuild their lives safely and free of fear, she wrote in an e mail.
Maryland nonprofits accounted for about 198.6 million volunteer hours, worth $3.9 billion in services, annually from 2005 to 2007, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Many nonprofit programs are based solely on volunteers, said Mac Ramsey, executive director for The Arc of Prince George Volunteers for The Arc, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities, travel anywhere from 10 to 100 miles each month.
hard enough to find volunteers; some of these people are already working two jobs to stay afloat, he said.
But some volunteers still overlook how much gas or work they put into their services, saying it because they truly enjoy what they doing.
just combine lots of trips, said Gerta Parr of Upper Marlboro, who has traveled more than 80 miles per week to work in The Arc thrift shop the last two years. think the increase would be great. I think there a lot more out there more stretched than I am. action has been taken on either bill thus far, although Cardin has recently received companion House legislation.