Cumberland Times-News

December 16, 2013

Exempt them

Taxes eat up money students raise for charities

Cumberland Times-News

— The Peace Studies Club at Allegany College of Maryland may not be well-known to most of us, but it is among the many small groups that go quietly about helping other people who need it.

It operates a plastics recycling program at the college and has helped underwrite the cost of recycling at the college’s food service. It has helped register new voters and participated in other worthwhile activities.

The club also raises money that it gives such entities as the Union Rescue Mission, Toys for Happiness, organizations that help returning war veterans, Doctors Without Borders, Ark of Hope animal rescue and Haiti relief.

Spokesmen say the club keeps none of the money it raises. This semester, it is going to combat hunger, a cause it has supported in the past.

Like other organizations do, it buys products such as coffee at a discounted price and then resells it at a higher cost. It must pay Maryland’s 6 percent sales tax on these transactions, and last year that amounted to about $500.

That’s not a lot of money, but it’s money that goes to the government, which really doesn’t need it, instead of to people who could use it.

So the Peace Studies Club has asked our delegation to the General Assembly to help them and, in so doing, help other student service organizations who raise money for charity.

The delegation members say they are receptive to the idea and willing to work with the comptroller’s office and state tax officials to resolve the matter.

A representative of the comptroller’s office has said that Comptroller Peter Franchot would be happy to work with legislators on a possible solution.

We hope it doesn’t take much to fix this. As a matter of curiosity, we took a brief look at what it takes to become a Maryland state tax-exempt organization and were glad it wasn’t something we had to do ourselves.

Even if it accomplishes nothing else, this experience will introduce the Peace Studies Club’s members to a phenomenon most of us already know about — seeing the fruits of your labors gobbled up by the tax man.