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President Lambert talks with NC legislators about tax law changes

A capital news conference underscores the potential impact on the state's nonprofit organizations.

President Leo M. Lambert spoke at a June 19 news conference at the North Carolina State Legislative Building.

Elon President Leo M. Lambert led a group of nonprofit leaders at the state capital in Raleigh, N.C., in voicing opposition to tax laws under consideration by the General Assembly. At a June 19 news conference at the State Legislative Building, Lambert explained the impact of two possible tax reform changes being considered by lawmakers.

The first change would cap or eliminate the current sales tax refunds nonprofits receive from the state. The second would do away with state income tax deductions for charitable contributions.

"Expanding the tax burden for nonprofit organizations is exactly the wrong approach," Lambert said at the news conference. "Our institutions are economic engines for our state. We employ a lot of people and we bring talent to North Carolina and our local communities … students from all over the country. Adding this tax burden to private colleges and universities is very much a counterproductive move."

Lambert said if the tax changes become law, students and their parents will end up paying more for higher education. "There has never been a time in my 15 years as president of Elon when the conversations around the dinner tables (about college costs) have been more intense," Lambert said. "Putting another burden on these families is exactly the wrong thing to do at the wrong time."

President Lambert was among seven nonprofit leaders who spoke at the Raleigh news conference.

Lambert said the impact of the sales tax law change at Elon would be about $1.7 million annually. "That's very, very significant," Lambert said.

Lambert was joined at the news conference by Nido Qubein, president of High Point University, in representing the 36 member institutions of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities. Other nonprofit representatives who spoke included David Heinen of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits; John Thoma, executive director of Hospice of Wake County; Tom Akins, president and CEO of LeadingAge North Carolina; Susan Lassiter, president of Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital; and Rev. Joseph Mann, a United Methodist minister and church leader.

Heinen cited polls that show that 80 percent of North Carolinians do not support taxing nonprofit organizations.

House Finance Committee Chairman Edgar Starnes, a Republican from Caldwell, N.C., spoke briefly at the news conference and said he shares the concerns of the nonprofit leaders.

Dan Anderson,
6/19/2013 3:25 PM