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Re: AMSAT & Combined Federal Campaign

At 10:30 AM 29-11-01 -0600, Timothy J. Salo wrote:
> > Date: Thu, 29 Nov 2001 09:45:36 -0500
> > To: "Timothy J. Salo" <salo@saloits.com>, amsat-bb@AMSAT.Org
> > From: Arthur H Feller <afeller@ieee.org>
> > Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] AMSAT & Combined Federal Campaign
> >       [...]
> > State tax laws vary widely.  So far as we have determined with the help of
> > our accountants and auditors, our lives as volunteers (and record keepers)
> > are much easier accepting free will donations than having to contend with
> > nearly 50 different taxing jurisdictions.  Just being practical.
>Thanks for your note.  I will respond at greater length (with a few
>questions, of course) in the next few days.
> > If you have other specific information which might be helpful, please let
> > me know and I'll follow up.
>AMSAT's approach seems unusual, but perhaps it's not. Maybe it's the
>right answer, but I don't know.  (For example, I believe that some
>states require charitable organizations to register, if they solicit
>donations.  So, I wonder if AMSAT is failing to register as a
>charitable organization, rather than applying for state tax exemptions...)
>Mostly, I am curious, and probably have a modest interest in doing what
>I can to ensure that AMSAT doesn't, for whatever reason, do odd things
>that may raise questions that would distract it from its mission.

Tim, we've been at this for quite a few years now.  My job, as AMSAT 
Treasurer, is in large part to keep us out of trouble with the various 
taxing authorities.

Tax exemptions come in a couple of flavors.  One is an exemption for AMSAT 
from PAYING sales taxes on OUR purchases of goods and services.  We have 
such an exemption in Florida where much purchasing is done at our lab.  We 
don't have an exemption in Maryland, where our office is located, because 
it's not available to us under Maryland law.  Every jurisdiction does 
whatever it wants to do.  Don't expect consistency.

The other flavor is an exemption from having others pay taxes on goods or 
serviced received from us.  We have tax exempt status under 26 USC 
501(c)(3) so that USA taxpayers can deduct free will donations to AMSAT 
from their taxable income.  (We've discussed a similar status for 
Canada.  But, that's not finished.)  However, our Federal tax status does 
NOT exempt us from the need to collect STATE SALES TAXES on PURCHASES from 

Rather than SELL things, we have decided to SUGGEST levels of DONATION 
associated with obtaining various items.  Using this process, money 
received by AMSAT is a free will donation and is, therefor, not subject to 
sales tax.  You may contribute what we suggest or as much as you want and 
it's USA tax deductible, if you deduct contributions.

If we sold items, that is, exchanged items of value for specific amounts of 
money, then sales taxes would apply in those jurisdictions which have a 
sales tax.  Our volunteers at hamfests would have to keep far more detailed 
records and the office would have to file tax returns and make tax deposits 
for each individual taxing jurisdiction.  Not a pleasant prospect.

We'd all be most grateful for new and better ideas.

Hope this helps.

73, art.....

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