Limiting sales-tax refunds would harm nonprofits

The recently introduced Senate Bill 700 proposes new taxes on nonprofits by severely limiting sales-tax refunds. The bill would greatly harm a number of organizations that families rely on every day across our state. One of these groups is the YMCA of the Triangle.

If North Carolina’s elected officials impose a new sales tax on the nonprofit sector, the YMCA will have fewer resources to reinvest in the community. For over 150 years, the YMCA of the Triangle has strengthened the foundations of our community by filling gaps that our local governments aren’t able to meet. Our YMCA work focuses on youth development and healthy living programs for adults, children and families. At the Y, we consider it our social responsibility to ensure that these services are available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. In fact, nearly 15,000 YMCA program participants and members receive some level of financial assistance.

If enacted, Senate Bill 700 would critically reduce the YMCA’s ability to offer programs and services for the most under-resourced areas in our community, as well as for children and families with the highest needs across our region.

The YMCA’s programs and services, and those of other nonprofits, effectively and efficiently complement crucial services that the government provides, often saving taxpayers money. A new sales tax on nonprofits would affect the YMCA’s ability to provide safe and quality child care for many hard-working parents, to offer free meals for hungry children after school and over the summer, to support student success through educational enrichment and mentoring programs, to provide swim lessons to all community members, to improve the health of our community and to provide spaces for community and civic groups to gather and collaborate for the greater good of our region.

Furthermore, charitable nonprofits are organized and operate in support of missions that benefit the public. Unlike for-profit businesses, charitable nonprofits are required by federal and state law to reinvest their earnings into their missions. Limiting sales tax exemptions for nonprofits of all sizes would have a devastating effect on the services these organizations provide to their communities.

It is evident throughout North Carolina and the Triangle that the YMCA and other nonprofits are a necessity in thousands of people’s lives – addressing pressing social and community needs. I strongly urge our lawmakers to reassess the important and essential role of charitable nonprofits in our communities as they consider the harmful effects Senate Bill 700 would have on all North Carolinians.

Mary Nash Rusher is chairman of the Triangle YMCA board of directors.