Rep. Titus Introduces Bill to Encourage Charity Transparency

Apr 19, 2016
Press Release

April 19, 2016
Contact: Kyle Roerink
Phone: (202) 657-3219

 Washington, D.C. – Representative Dina Titus of Nevada’s First Congressional District introduced H.R. 4990, the Strengthening Charities Through Transparency Act, legislation to make it easier for Americans and state charity regulators to access information about bad actors in the charity world.  
H.R. 4990 will accomplish two important goals. First, it will provide state charity regulators with an important tool to track charities and charity executives who have been convicted of fraud in other states.  Second, it will require the IRS to digitally release information about charities to make it easier for Americans to determine which charities are using funds wisely to serve their intended cause and which charities are simply seeking to enrich unscrupulous CEOs. While these steps may not eliminate all fraudulent activities, they will give states and the general public greater tools to distinguish the good charities from the bad.

“The Strengthening Charities Through Transparency Act is a response to reports revealing dozens of so-called charities that are actually little more than corrupt schemes to enrich their founders and the for-profit companies that they hire to solicit donations. As Americans finish filing their taxes and begin collecting deduction receipts for next year, it’s important they know that the organizations they are donating to are legitimately helping those they claim to serve,” said Congresswoman Titus.  “These charities claim to provide services for veterans, children, and cancer patients, but in reality spend only a small percentage of the donations they receive on actual charity work. My bill will improve state regulation and help generous Americans make informed decisions so that they can know that their hard earned dollars will be well spent serving those who need our help.” 
Specifically, the Strengthening Charities Through Transparency Act would:   

1.    Require the Department of Justice to establish a database, accessible to state Attorneys General and easily searchable, of charities and charity management officials who are convicted of fraud, theft, or financial crimes. It would require DOJ to request that states submit this information to the agency for inclusion.  

2.    Require charities to submit their 990 tax forms (tax return forms filed by tax-exempt organizations and nonexempt charitable trusts) in an electronic format.  Currently, charities are given the option to submit electronically. 

3.    Require the IRS to release a digitized copy of the 990 whenever it would have under current law released a paper copy of the 990. Currently, the IRS only releases non-searchable copies of these forms, which makes it difficult to access and organize the information.