Advocacy Alert: Jan. 9

Congress Narrowly Avoids the Fiscal Cliff; Big Decisions Loom as Museums Advocacy Day Approaches

After weeks of negotiation, months of tension, and seemingly endless press releases, Congress passed last-minute legislation to avert much of the so-called “fiscal cliff.” While there are many details of the American Taxpayer Relief Act, some of its most notable provisions include a tax rate increase on individuals earning more than $400,000 annually and a two-month delay of scheduled across-the-board spending cuts for federal agencies.

Although both Democrats and Republicans proposed new limits on itemized tax deductions (including those for charitable donations), none were included in the final package after extensive advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill from museums and other nonprofits. Congress did reinstate a smaller (though still disappointing) provision that limits deductions for the wealthy but functions more like an income tax surcharge. Yet these issues are far from settled; Congress will make significant decisions about federal spending and tax deductions as this debate continues in the next few months.

“It isn’t perfect, but this legislation is much better for museums than going over the fiscal cliff,” said Alliance President Ford W. Bell. “The package is probably most significant for what it doesn’t contain: new limits on the charitable deduction,” he continued. “While this is a huge victory, everything could change in two short months if we don’t continue to make our case. Museums Advocacy Day is a critical moment for our field, and we need everyone to participate.”

At Museums Advocacy Day (Feb. 25–26 in Washington, D.C.), attendees will have the opportunity to stand side-by-side with fellow advocates and send a powerful message to Congress about the importance of museums. They will also receive valuable information from policy experts and learn strategies for meeting with elected officials. Registration for this essential field-wide event closes on Jan. 25.