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July 29, 2010

Attorney General Renews Call for Charitable Solicitations Act

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  Attorney General Tom Miller called on Iowa lawmakers to reconsider a plan to enable Iowans to find out how much of the money they donate really goes to charity.

At a news conference where Miller announced putting a stop to questionable practices involving three professional fundraisers, Miller proposed legislation that would require more transparency for charities and more access to information for Iowans.  Under the proposed Charitable Solicitations Act, the Iowa Attorney General would provide an online database where Iowans could easily check on charitable organizations.

“Iowans want an easy way to find out how much of their contributions are really going toward a good cause,” Miller said.  “This would be a great way for them to find that out.”

The Charitable Solicitations Act would require charitable organizations to disclose their income.  Organizations would also have to disclose the percentages of income actually used for charitable purposes, as opposed to other costs such as administration and fundraising.

Iowa is one of only ten states without a registration requirement.  “This would put us in line with most other states,” Miller said.  “I think this would help increase charitable giving by spotlighting our many outstanding charities.”  Miller added that the proposed legislation, which he first proposed in February, would pose a minimal burden on charities.

Only charities collecting more than $50,000 a year would have to register, which would occur electronically at the same time charities file their annual federal tax returns.  Filing fees would be $25-$100 for the vast majority of Iowa charities.  The proposed legislation contains exemptions for religious and political groups, along with organizations whose sole purpose is to support government institutions (i.e. university foundations).

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